Three Pieces of Simple Feedback from Our First Week


Our three schools have opened.  KIPP Academy Lynn and KIPP Academy Lynn Collegiate moved into our new home at 90 High Rock in Lynn.  KIPP Academy Boston’s fifth graders started their journey at 215 Forest Hills Road in Jamaica Plain.  It’s been a fun ride.

It’s been especially grand to get back into classrooms.  In an attempt to get writing again here are recreations of three simple pieces of feedback from the past week.  I didn’t write down the praise and planning conversations that surrounded these pieces of directive feedback.  My goal, especially with young teachers, is to give a very manageable piece of feedback to implement.

Yesterday in your room I watched you twice  move closer to a student when he or she was speaking to the whole group. This has the effect of making the student quieter and the classroom turn into singles tennis (KFET3.6D).  One plane-breaking habit that is counter-intuitive for most people is to move away from the student who is speaking.  As you move away (usually to the diagonal corner) the student naturally increases his or her volume and begins to address his/her teammates and you.

You were at the front of the room in the vicinity of the Smartboard during the entire ten minutes I observed.  This makes it hard for you to notice student confusion and misbehavior (KFET 2.4 D &3.5F).  Lemov talks about breaking the plane and moving around the room frequently. One way to develop the muscle memory for this is to deliberately move to a different corner of the room every time you ask a question.  This four corners move will quickly become habit.  One more hint: obsess about keeping book-bags under desks or hung neatly on the back of chairs. If they are in the aisle they will keep you out of corner spaces (watch how Marquis masterfully splays his bag out to keep you from his corner desk) and they will make activities that get kids up and moving harder to execute.

This morning you introduced the extra credit procedure where kids can do  challenge problems.  You said, “hand it to me on the way out of class and I’ll get it back to you tomorrow.” You may have wanted to create greater accountability and investment in the challenge problems but you created two new potential pitfalls.

You have a stack of papers in your hand as you line the the kids up for lunch, have a follow-up conversation with a student, make a parent call, grab you own lunch out of the fridge without sending the Jenga-like stack of teacher lunchboxes tumbling to the floor like yesterday while making it back to the cafeteria in time to manage the lunch study group.  In other words, you are a super busy teacher juggling a thousand cognitive tasks and relationships.  It is highly likely that you will lose some papers.  Make it a rule in your room never hand me a piece of paper, deliver the papers to _____________and create the place where all work is returned.

The second pitfall is promising students you will return these challenge problems tomorrow.  It’s hard work to get the exit tickets sorted and homework checked.  When it comes to the grading of papers under-promise and over-deliver (KFET 3.9E).




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