I can’t believe I have never written about Peer Feedback in teacher training on this blog. Well, one of the reasons is that to me personally, peer feedback has the same philosophy/rules/tips as trainer feedback to trainees/course participants (and possibly, as feedback to students on their performance).
Maybe, it is the right time to look at it more closely. I am currently working on a project where teams of experienced teachers/trainers complete a task and share a project they created, and the others give feedback. There is a set of agreed criteria, and my tips are for getting them started. So…
I asked this question on social media: What would your ‘Top Three Tips’ for Peer Feedback be?
- Be Specific (Why you are saying what you are saying: what did you observe?)
- Be Kind (Why are you saying what you are saying?)
- Explore Together (rather than ‘evaluate’ your colleague)
Tips from my PLN:
Avoid the ‘Open Box’: Agree on the focus and criteria in advance to avoid bias and provide feedback that your peer would consider relevant. – Svetlana Kandybovich, Montenegro
Listen: You can’t begin to help a teacher improve until you understand why they do what they do now. – Matthew Ellman, UK
Reciprocity. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” – David, Canada
“Sticky Notes” — what positively ‘struck’ you and stuck with you
“Cravings” — what’s missing, what needs further explanation, what you want to know more about
“Too Much Info” — what’s repetitive or unnecessary
– – Kristina, USA
Focus on the positive/strengths – Olga, Ukraine
1. Be economical with words (I love experimenting new sentences/questions that will make the colleague spill more)
2. Differentiate your feedback style in line with different individuals (some people love direct opinions while others love experimenting/simulating a learning moment again).
— Burak, Turkey
[please check the comments below for some more ideas!]
Colleagues from Libya:
- Be clear
- Use non-judgemental language
- Be direct
- Use encouraging and motivating language
- Be helpful
- Choose the right time to give feedback
- Give feedback when you are asked for it
- Appreciate the effort and highlight the positive moments first
- Be objective
- Know your audience (learn more about the person you talk to)
Thoughts and Questions
Two ideas to add to the initial list
- be creative and have fun (make it an attractively-looking product, make it fun to create, share and read)
- be ‘cultutally sensitive’ (even if your peers are from the same culture as you are, and especially if you are using L2 as the culture of that language may be (significantly) different from the culture in your L1)
- ask: what is the other person looking feedback for/on? (it may not be the same as what we would like to talk about!)
Rachel shared this useful peer feedback tool Ethan Mansur mentioned in his IATEFL talk** is the Feedback Ladder from Project Zero Harvard. I find it beautiful for a number of reasons, e.g., how far ‘suggestions’ are from the beginning of the process (and how rarely, if ever, they came up in the tips from my colleagues!)
**The talk was not recorded but you can read a summary of that session on Rachel’s blog (scroll down to Ethan Mansur’s Exam Prep Toolkit). If you don’t yet follow her blog, please join right now not to miss any great posts in the future!**
Over to you:
- Would your tips for ‘Peer Feedback’ be different from ‘Trainer Feedback’, for example, or ‘Teacher Feedback’ to students?
- In your opinion, does ‘good peer feedback’ need to be (only) positive or (only) crtical?
- What is your personal definition of a good (piece of) feedback?
Older posts about feedback on this blog:
2022 note: this post was written on an intensive course for new teacher trainers, and all the questions asked were their real questions about conducting feedback sessions (and the answers were written by Zhenya according to her 2015 beliefs).
2022 note: this is another old9er) post about a specific intensive course. We often called those sessions ‘guided reflection’, not feedback, therefore, it was not just ‘giving’ information or input to the people who had taught their classes but mostly focusing on helping them reflect about their teaching (and with their help, reflect on ours).
2022 note: I still love the metaphor, and how it leaves us with the choice to act on the feedback we receive, or ignore it (or perhaps put the idea shared on hold and get back to it later)
2022 note: now in the online teaching/training era, this kind of feedback is much easier to get with the help of Google Forms, Answer Garden https://answergarden.ch/ or many others.
Feedback Leading to Action (in Trainer Conversations Series 2020)
Convincing Feedback? (in Trainer Conversations Series 2020)