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Video transcript

Presenter intro: Helena Moore

We all want our pupils to improve, and high-quality, specific feedback shows pupils how to get better. There are many ways in which teachers can give effective feedback, and they don’t have to take up a huge amount of time. Verbal feedback in lessons can be effective, but when it’s planned and delivered well, pupils will know how to act from the feedback you give them. Good feedback helps pupils to move from where they are now, to where you want them to be.

Presenter main

Feedback is about sharing information with pupils to change either their effort or the goals of their work. This can be specific to the task, the areas of learning or to do with pupils’ self-regulation. Effective feedback shows pupils what success looks like in a task or problem, where they are in relation to that success, and what practical steps they can take to close that gap. Feedback of this type can help pupils to monitor and evaluate their own learning. For example, in a numeracy class, reminding pupils that they can use their fingers to add up two numbers provides them with a specific strategy that they can use and check for when they do the task again. Or when competing an addition sentence, showing them an example that accurately uses the equals sign and an example that misses this out can help them to come up with a better judgment about their own work and identify a specific way to improve. Pupils can then apply this feedback when they try the task again. Over time, feedback that shows pupils where they are going, how they are doing, and what they need to do next, can help them to self-regulate their learning.

There are a number of key ideas that teachers need to bear in mind when planning and implementing feedback. The first is to do with ensuring that pupils can act upon your feedback: it’s important to make feedback manageable. Whilst there may be lots of different things your pupils need to do to improve, they can only focus on a few things at a time. Identify one or two specific actions for pupils to do, model how to make those improvements, and make sure that you provide them time to act on the feedback. Feedback that is concrete and clear can be particularly helpful. For example, telling pupils to, "Offer a more thoughtful analysis of Macbeth’s character by discussing his doubts as well as his determination", will be better than telling pupils to, "Expand on your points with more thorough analysis of Macbeth’s character."

Equally, giving direct feedback that gets to the point quickly works well. Try reducing the amount of words that you use so that you focus pupils’ attention on what matters most. In PE for example, pupils will have a better understanding of what to improve if you say, "Try again, this time put all your weight on your left foot", instead of, "I want you to have another go at that, and this time when you’re coming to your run-up, remember to place all your weight on your left foot."

And remember to give pupils enough time to use feedback to improve their work. In order for feedback to work, pupils need to understand it and be able to act upon it.

Another consideration is how to make feedback appealing to pupils. Some pupils respond better than others to feedback. The reasons for this are often to do with complex social factors, and teachers need to be sensitive to this. When giving feedback, show pupils improving work is a normal and continual part of learning by reminding them that the purpose of giving feedback is to help them to get better. Use a neutral tone so that the feedback doesn’t feel personal or judgemental.

So far, we’ve talked about how teachers can support pupils to get the best out of feedback, but it’s important to ensure that feedback is manageable for teachers too. Many teachers spend a lot of time writing detailed, written comments on pupil work, and this isn’t always the best approach. Try using verbal feedback during lessons, in place of written feedback after lessons, where possible.

Another way to make the best use of your time is to prioritize feedback that will benefit the majority of the class. That means checking if pupils hold common misconceptions, as well as identifying trends in pupil work. Good feedback can have a significant impact on pupil learning, but it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to respond to every single thing that your pupils have done in a lesson. Giving effective feedback involves focusing on the things that pupils can do to make the most impact on their learning.

Presenter exemplification framing

In the next example, you will see an Ambition Institute coach model a way of giving verbal feedback to the whole class. As you watch, pay attention to how they do the following:

  • Focuses on common misconceptions
  • Provides specific actions for pupils, and enough time for pupils to respond to feedback

Exemplification: Ambition Institute coach

In this example, I’m going to model how we can give whole class feedback to address misconceptions and provide specific actions for pupils to improve. Now, this is a year nine RE class, who have been studying Christian beliefs. they’ve been practicing writing paragraphs that follow a ‘point, evidence and explain’ format. And in their most recent assessments, pupils were asked to explain what Christians believe about salvation. And I noticed that lots of the pupils demonstrated a common misconception, that the Bible was written by Jesus. In this model, I’m going to zoom in on the moment where I am identifying this misconception, and I’m using a model answer to show them what good looks like.

“So, what we’ve got on the board here is a good example of how to quote from the Bible. I’ll read it out for you. So we see in the Bible, in the book of John, where it says, "For God loved the world so that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life."

Now, what I’ve seen in some of your responses when you’ve been quoting the Bible, is that you’ve used the phrase, Jesus says. And unfortunately, this is incorrect, because the Bible was written by lots of different people, inspired by the Holy Spirit. And although the New Testament does focus on Jesus’ life and teachings, it was actually written after his death, by people who were not around during his life. And it’s actually more accurate to use one of the following: in the Bible, it says, the Bible teaches that, or according to the Bible. And then you can also refer to the book where that reference is found.

Now, look back at your own work and make sure that you’ve cited the Bible correctly. I’m going to give you three minutes to do that, and I’ll leave the phrases on the board to help you.”

So let’s focus on a couple of features within this model. First, I prioritized giving feedback about a common misconception that many pupils have with regards to Christianity, that Jesus wrote the Bible or that Jesus, at least, wrote the New Testament. And this is something that pupil often get wrong. Now understanding who wrote the Bible and when it was written, is crucial to understanding the beliefs and practices of Christianity and other Abrahamic religions, and is a concept that pupils need to master. And therefore it’s an important misconception to address.

Second, I gave pupils a specific action to improve their work. They had to identify how they had cited evidence from the Bible, and make sure that they had done so correctly. Pupils then had time to act on feedback in the lesson, with sentence starters to help them to be accurate. you’ll notice how my feedback was brief and to the point, and I delivered it in a neutral tone. I want pupils to act on my feedback quickly, and recognize that this is something that all learners need to do to improve.

Presenter key ideas

In this video, we’ve considered how feedback can support pupil learning, and some of the ways in which teachers can deliver feedback effectively. Before we finish, take a moment to reflect on the key ideas of the video. Which of the following ideas do you think the example illustrated the best?

  • Being aware of common misconceptions and discussing with experienced colleagues how to help pupils master important concepts
  • Focusing on specific actions for pupils and providing time for pupils to respond to feedback
  • Using verbal feedback during lessons in place of written feedback after lessons where possible
  • Thinking carefully about how to ensure feedback is specific and helpful when using peer- or self-assessment

Presenter summary

Feedback is one of the most important tools that we have as a teacher. It can have a profound and positive impact on our pupils. Proper implementation can give pupils the support they need and encourage them to ultimately monitor their own learning.