Feedback: A Valuable Teaching Strategy for Health Education and Physical Education, Part 2

The health education and physical education article focused last month’s Content Corner instructional improvement article on student feedback. This month’s article examines student feedback to the teacher. There are many sources for feedback about a teacher’s instructional practices. Administrators, peers and students can all provide valuable feedback to teachers that benefits all by responding to specific prompts for actionable feedback. Honest feedback from students can help improve teaching effectiveness. Teaching students the principles of constructive feedback is a beneficial lifetime skill and necessary to providing teachers will helpful feedback. Feedback needs to focus on teaching strategies such as class structure, usefulness of activities/assignments/homework and not personal characteristics or qualities. There are a number of online tools available such as the Great Schools Partnership resources found at info@iwalkthrough.org and “Ten Tools to Try”  available at http://www.georgebrown.ca/staffdevelopment/Student_Feedback/tentools.html#one. Teachers may also choose to develop their own Google forms for student feedback.

Online videos can be particularly useful and are found at: https://www.teachingchannel.org/videos/improve-teaching-with-student-feedback.

There are different times when it is useful to ask for student feedback: 5-10 minutes before the end of a class period, once a week, once a month, and before a student-teacher conference. In-the-moment feedback can also be extremely valuable. It can be very effective to pause a lesson and ask students to offer feedback on specifics (e.g., presenting information more clearly, talking less, explaining more, giving examples). A physical education teacher could have a lesson where they are teaching a particular dance, but the students do not seem to be able to perform it. If the teacher asks the students for suggestions on how to be more clear. The students suggest the teacher put the dance steps on a white board so they can see and refer to them as they are learning the dance. The key piece for the feedback is that the teacher act on it. A health education teacher may teach a unit on relationships that includes a guest speaker from the local sexual assault or domestic violence agency.  At the end of the unit the teacher may give the students a unit evaluation form that ask specific questions about the usefulness of each lesson including having the guest speaker and do the students feel comfortable having follow up discussions on the issues with the teacher. They may also ask for suggestions about what the teacher may want to add or change about the unit or how the teacher presented the information to ensure it is inclusive of all people and relationships.

Providing specific prompts for students to use for actionable feedback is essential. Some examples include: How easy is it to approach me with questions or concerns? Do you feel our class time is used wisely? Is the work in this class too hard or too easy for you? What can I do to give you better feedback on…? Am I able to explain a confusing point and help you understand it better?

For more information about feedback or health education and physical education, contact Maine DOE Health Education and Physical Education Specialists Susan Berry at susan.berry@maine.gov or Jean Zimmerman at jean.zimmerman@maine.gov.

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