Giving Compass' Take:

• Christine Witcher, writing for EdSurge, discusses her experience as a teacher trying to navigate how best to utilize classroom feedback from students. 

• How can feedback create more positive relationships with students and teachers?

• Read about how to create a collaborative classroom. 


I was in my fifth year of teaching at Forest Ridge, an independent all-girls school serving students in grades 5-12 in Bellevue, Wash., and I was feeling isolated in a room with students who didn’t seem to want to engage with my class, despite all my efforts to bring enthusiasm and passion to my work.

The previous summer, I started the Physics By Inquiry Summer Institute at the University of Washington, a three-year program where teachers learn how to run an inquiry-based classroom by engaging in inquiry-based learning themselves. I came away from the institute eager to try inquiry-based instruction in my class during the 2015-16 school year.

Unfortunately, reality had other plans. By winter, my students ranged from patiently tolerant to disengaged to downright defiant, and parents and administrators were starting to get involved. In response to my new teaching style, I was seeing clear signs of student resistance: refusal to engage with learning tasks, blaming poor academic performance on my teaching and disrupting class.

My quest to resolve issues around student engagement and agency led me to partner with two other educators who were struggling with related problems. After reading “The Power of Feedback,” a research report by John Hattie and Helen Timperley, we concluded that frequent and focused feedback was the key to empowering students to take charge of their learning.

I dug into the existing research about student engagement and realized that my challenge was actually that my students lacked agency over their learning. In switching to inquiry-based instruction, I had pulled myself back and asked my students to step up and take the lead, but I hadn’t given them the skills or strategies to do it successfully.

So my first step toward empowering them to drive their learning was to include them in the process of figuring out how to rebuild the positive classroom culture we had lost.

Read the full article about improving student feedback by Christine Witcher at EdSurge