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4 Pieces of Feedback to Give Teachers Who Struggle With Formative Assessment

Updated: Feb 23

Feedback from leaders to teachers must always be actionable. Meaning, every piece of advice should include what and how. Identify for the teacher what was noticed and how the teacher can make it even better.

Below are four different feedback statements that you can share with your educators who need further support in their formative assessment practices. Each statement includes what might be observed and the action step the teacher can make to improve it.

  1. Allow Time for Independent Demonstration

Teachers often get caught in providing feedback to students while they are working on a task. It becomes difficult for the teacher to gauge individual student understanding when feedbacking and assisting while circulating. 

So, say: “Before intervening, consider providing at least 3-5 minutes for students to demonstrate their individual understanding.” 

Before delving into feedback, consider allocating a brief window, typically 3-5 minutes, for students to independently showcase their understanding. This approach assists educators in gauging individual comprehension without prematurely influencing responses, providing students the space to demonstrate their grasp or areas of uncertainty.

2. Facilitate Collaborative Dialogue

Teachers will ask a question to a whole-group and often times, it is the same students who raise their hand.

So, say: “If the same students are raising their hand, ask everyone to turn and talk with a partner. Then, select a few students to share what their partner shared.”

When a few students dominate discussions, prompt the entire class to engage in paired discussions. Afterward, select a few students to share insights from their partners. This approach not only diversifies participation, but also offers an opportunity for quieter students to contribute. If students still grapple with answers, it may indicate the need for a quick reteach.

3. Embed Checkpoints in Lesson Plans

Waiting until an exit ticket or homework assignment to gauge independent understanding means that students may leave the room with a misunderstanding or misconception. 

So, say: “Consider marking in your lesson plan when you will check the understanding of each student.”

Teachers should embed checkpoints in their lesson plans specifically aimed at assessing individual student understanding. By intentionally “scheduling” these checkpoints, educators are more likely to remember and seamlessly integrate formative assessment strategies during lessons, ensuring sustained student engagement and learning progression.

4. Focus on Keywords and Phrases during Circulation

Teachers will circulate a classroom while students are working and get caught up in looking at the task as a whole. As a result, they engage in lengthy 1 on 1 conversations with students, while others don’t receive feedback, but may need it.

So, say: “When circulating the room while students are working, jot down 3-4 key-words or phrases you are looking for that indicate understanding of the content, skill, or standard.”

While circulating the room during student work time, teachers can jot down 3-4 key words or phrases indicative of understanding the content, skill, or standard. By doing this, teachers swiftly identify students who comprehend the material and those who may require additional support. Consequently, a small-group of those who need remediation can be implemented. 

Either write this feedback down on observations or share it during the debrief.

If you're also looking to share assessment strategies with teachers, head to my article, 4 Assessment Strategies to Use During Instruction.

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