Growing up is inevitable. And growth hormone (somatotropin hormone) helps us in growing up physically. But what about mindset? Yes, it is feedback that exposes the lacuna as well as the strength. It indicates how I am and how I can improve myself. Basically, feedback acts as a chemical messenger that triggers the brain to fluctuate between more creative and more critical. Thus we all need feedback to grow up. But is there anyone who doesn’t get feedback?
In the context of my work here in Swarachna (a low-cost private school in Sitapur, Uttar Pradesh) as part of Milaan, i am talking about the school teachers. Since more often in school I observe teachers scolding students for their bad performances, evaluating them with grades, providing complements. But I have never seen the evaluation of teachers, students giving compliments or feedback to teachers.
As Bill Gates says, the group of people those who never get feedback are teachers. It is not because they are the perfect ones, but because of their fixed mindset, the mindset that stops from doing something creative for the fear of judgment. They don’t allow the luxury of being creative. They strive to be perfect without any scratch. So they do not welcome opportunity that is more challenging. The more important question here then is, do teachers even need feedback? Let’s investigate this a little more.
A student’s performance is evaluated through assessment. Assessments are conducted to judge student’s learning rate. In the same thread, evaluation of teachers provide a good scope to know how good a teacher’s learning rate is. Yes, every opportunity of teaching is also a scope for the teacher to learn, from the students and their uptake of the things they have been taught. They also need to be evaluated on the basis of their teaching style, content and methodology adopted. As Producer Company needs customer feedback to improve the quality of a product, teachers need the same. No doubt teaching is a tough job. It is the teacher who gives shape to a kid’s imagination, curiosity, world view and value system. And a dynamic teacher can give a student an excellent shape. So teacher’s evaluation must be of paramount concern to the education system.
Now a question arises, whose feedback turns to be effective? Undoubtedly, students’ will be prime here. As students are the consumers in the education value chain. It helps a teacher to understand the strength and weakness of their teaching pattern. It makes them aware of a student’s need. Research also showed that student’s feedback works as an effective tool for the development of teacher (Hussain & Khan, 2016). Teachers who do not appreciate feedback develop a fixed mindset which constricts them from learning more, exploring more, digging more. Without learning, teaching will not be effective as teaching is not a one-way traffic. Teaching and learning are inseparable.
Homo sapiens are the result of years of evolution, like wise method of teaching. And it goes on evolving. Hence teachers also need to be evolving to meet the current standard. If teachers stop evolving, a student and hence the future has to pay for the same.
As an initiative, I have started ‘Drop Box’ here in Swarachna, where I am a counsellor-cum-facilitator. The idea of ‘Drop Box’ is to encourage kids to drop their feedback and suggestions, for teachers. To begin with, it is just for me – to be able to create a non threatening set-up and avoid hostility at the initial stages from peers. At the end of each week, every kid has to drop a letter, to me. It helps me to evolve teaching method as well keep students tuned to the class. It is an inbuilt mechanism that inspires to perform. I will keep you posted on how this progresses, and on my attempts to expand this to the other teachers here …
First of all, well thought and great article 🙂 I think assessment further goes to need of a participation based assessment of teacher as basic level of competence is something measured at time of recruitment. Second, i think just like every feedback, due consideration needs to be given to concept of coercion involved while taking such feedback from students. I THINK underlying thought process of a school system or in general in democratic institutions, is paternalism, such an idea of student centred feedback would shift that to new paradigm of liberal thought process 🙂 Is it sustainable? what do you think?
Thank for writing. I agree with the second thought. And not much sure about the sustainability. However a pilot study can reveal more.