One model that can be used for giving constructive comments to students and colleagues is the “Ladder of Feedback” advocated by Harvard Graduate School of Education.
The “Ladder of Feedback” consists of four sequential steps and can be used when providing comments about a lesson, behavior, school program or an event. The first step is to clarify with questions. The second stage is to value the positive features. The third phase is to express concerns and the fourth stage is to suggest next steps.
In doing the first step of clarifying, it is encouraged to ask specific questions and shun queries that are thinly disguised criticisms. Sentence starters such as “I wasn’t sure about …”; “What did … mean?”; and “Why was … there?” can be used.
For the second step of valuing positive features, we have to make sure that we are being honest and fair. It is not enough to say “I like your lesson” or “This project is cool”. There is a need to explain why we like the lesson, behavior, school program or event.
The third stage involves expressing concerns and avoiding attacking personal character or ability. We have to pay attention to the ideas, products or specific aspects, and can make use of qualified terms such as “I wonder if …”; “What do you think if …”; and “It seems to me …”
The last step encourages us to offer suggestions for improvement. Often, this step is combined with the third stage when stating concerns.
At BINUS SCHOOL Simprug, we applied the “Ladder of Feedback” when there was a proposal to conduct the “Battle of the Brains”, a competition involving elementary students. In the “Battle of the Brains”, the students were grouped into four teams and each team had five representatives from grades 1 to 5. The team representatives had to answer questions related to the grade level units of inquiry and different subjects, including music, visual art, physical education, and additional language.
Here’s the list of comments given by teachers about the “Battle of the Brains” using the “Ladder of Feedback”.
|Step 4: Suggest
|Step 3: Concern
|Step 2: Value
|Step 1: Clarify
With the comments given by our teachers using the “Ladder of Feedback”, we were able to make improvements before the D-Day of the “Battle of the Brains”.
The “Ladder of Feedback” is one useful tool for meeting Standard A, Practice 6, which states that “the school promotes open communication based on understanding and respect”. Implementing it creates a culture of trust and prevents unhealthy corridor talk.
By: Richel Langit-Dursin
BINUS SCHOOL Simprug