How can teachers and schools raise the profile of ‘verbal feedback’?
From May 2017, Teacher Toolkit (TT) is searching for a number of schools to conduct action research in school classrooms from September 2017 to May 2018; designed to alleviate teacher workload and raise the profile of verbal feedback. TT will coordinate participants, samples and documents, as well as publish the findings and share the results of the study with OfSTED and the Department for Education in England.
*Disclaimer: I do not claim to have the resources, the research expertise, time and/or funding, but I do claim to be passionate about dispelling myths to help the profession. It that’s enough, then sign up in the footer.
First and foremost, evidencing verbal feedback is difficult for OfSTED and senior leaders to do. For example, we know this because a sophisticated conversation in class with students, cannot be captured at the point of a work scrutiny or a school inspection. Despite feedback given in class, students may act on that feedback, but it will not be evident to external scrutiny the moment after it happens. Of course there are possibilities: students making progress and evidence of knowledge and skills developing in class, but this still does not address the issue that verbal or written feedback is better that the other.
There are solutions for capturing verbal feedback: cloud recording software and verbal-feedback stamps, but this is a backwards step and contradicts the purpose this research pilot. We need to put schools and teachers in a better position so that verbal feedback has the status is deserves. We also need to provide some hard evidence (yes, that’s data folks) that verbal feedback has a positive impact on student outcomes.
Now, I’m ‘no John Hattie’, but back in December 2016 I posted More Verbal Feedback and the response form readers was huge. After a fleeting message on Twitter and on Facebook, many of you wanted to get your teeth into something. So, here is the proposal in short, with a link to an online document and a sign up form.
This research is the result of demand from the profession for a case study to be initiated. The proposal is to help reduce teacher workload and improve the profile of verbal feedback, by developing this empirical research using quantitative data from school children and where possible, qualitative data through classroom observation.
This study is proposed by TT and is currently organised freely. At present, there is no funding or backing from any public organisations other than the professionals (that’s you!) who work within the system itself. It could be a total disaster, or it could change the landscape for the better. Schools in other parts of the world are also encouraged to sign up, and TT is looking for at least 50 schools to take part. We anticipate the study to conclude in May 2018 and expect the rationale to evolve as the number of people and schools sign up.
The objective is to dispel the following myths:
- That written feedback is the most valuable type of feedback.
- That the best written feedback is a conversation between pupil and teacher
- That feedback must be evidenced in a book to ‘count’ towards a) progress b) evidence of acting on feedback.
The perception that ‘written feedback is king’ and that it is a mark of hard work is something that needs to be questioned and ‘put to bed’. This study aims to publish a clear framework and common vernacular for teachers and schools to use, as well as publish data from several schools and the hundreds of students (proposed to be) participating in the pilot.
We may even gain funding as a result of publishing our grassroots movement and some national publicity …
There are already over 10 schools signed up! If you are interested in being part of this study, please: