A Constant Conversation
As we head towards the completion of Trimester Two, and the publishing of Trimester Two reports on March 15th, our students and faculty have been engaging in important feedback conversations around academic goals.
In the Middle School, feedback is our most important pedagogical tool. Focused on the task, detailed, specific and clear, our feedback is goal oriented, and adjusted to take into account the specific learner’s strengths, challenges, and needs. We view feedback as information that we provide to the students, helping them think metacognitively about their learning journey. For our teachers, feedback acts as a window into the student’s progress, and also as a mirror reflecting the practices and approaches that seem to work best, both for the individual and for the class as a whole.
Our approach to feedback and student growth is multi-layered:
(1) It begins with the combination of time (schedule) and space (the Learning Commons). We redesigned our middle school space a decade ago in order to provide a shared work space that we call the “Learning Commons,” which allows teachers the flexibility to meet with individual students in the classroom, while the rest of the class works in the Learning Commons (or vice versa), either individually or in groups. This strategic blend of schedule and space is vital to our teaching and learning and provides a myriad opportunities for growth.
(2) Our feedback deepens through conversations that occur through the MyPDS Gradebook feature, where our teachers can provide students with dynamic, timely, and assignment specific feedback.
(3) Finally, the teachers work diligently to craft individual narrative reports for each of their students, focusing on subject-specific skills and students’ progress towards mastery.
Perhaps, however, our most valuable form of feedback is conversation, and our goal is to engage every student in a ‘constant conversation’ around their academic and social-emotional growth. It is these constant conversations that allow us to truly commit to equity in our program, and provide each student with agency, and a supportive path towards mastery.