At REAL School, we aim to recognise the significance of parental feedback in enriching the teaching and learning experience. Our workshop objective was to establish a strong connection between parents and educators, understanding that their insights and input are invaluable in shaping the educational journey of our learners. Through this workshop, we aimed to empower parents, students, and teachers with insights into the importance of constructive feedback and how it can positively impact the educational growth of our learners.
Stage 1: Exploration
At REAL School, our learners engage in termly projects centred around distinct driving questions, aligned with our pedagogical framework known as "Dream to Reality" This pedagogy is founded on the principles of project-based learning, where various subject areas are integrated, with an emphasis on incorporating foundational subjects such as Mathematics and English where appropriate. At the core of our educational philosophy lies a commitment to sustainability and impact entrepreneurship, with a focus on fostering authentic and realistic learning experiences that contribute to our vision of building a beautiful world.
Within the Dream to Reality framework, we meticulously navigate distinct stages alongside our learners, with a keen emphasis on the utilisation of effective feedback. During the ERASMUS+ project, we directed our attention towards the phases of "Do, Redo, Share, and Review," which offer learners the opportunity to receive pertinent feedback relating to their final projects or outcomes. This approach is underpinned by robust research, emphasising that feedback should not be viewed as an isolated event but is most effective when applied systematically. Our research draws heavily from the Education Endowment Foundation's (EEF) guidance report on teacher feedback to enhance student learning, which outlines three fundamental principles governing effective feedback:
1. Feedback should furnish timely information, focusing on improvement, while also considering how learners perceive and utilise this information.
2. Timely feedback should primarily aim to advance the learning process, as feedback that is overly retrospective can hinder progress. This is notably relevant in the context of Ron Berger's work, particularly his engagement with Austin's Butterfly. The emphasis should extend beyond work quality, encompassing the enhancement of learning. As Ron Berger aptly states, 'once a student creates work that is important and beautiful, that student is never the same.’
3. The value of feedback hinges on how learners engage with it. If learners lack the motivation to improve, regardless of the thoughtfulness and insightfulness of the feedback provided, it becomes ineffective. Therefore, it is imperative to cultivate a 'feedback-rich culture' within both the classroom and the broader school community.
REAL School has thoughtfully integrated these principles into our teacher feedback strategies, encompassing diverse content, methods of delivery, target recipients, and timing.
In our exploratory efforts, we are particularly focusing on the individuals involved and the timing of our feedback, with a view to enhancing engagement among parents and the wider community within our Dream to Reality projects, characterised by their authenticity. At REAL School, we are actively collaborating with parents to ascertain how the school community can establish a sense of ownership within the learning process. This collaborative approach seeks to strengthen the interconnectedness between teachers, parents, and learners.
As part of REAL School's ongoing improvement process, we host mid-term forums, providing parents with a platform to offer feedback based on the 'What Went Well?' (WWW) and 'Even Better If' (EBI) framework. Additionally, parents are administered questionnaires to solicit feedback and collect data on the quality of education their children receive at REAL School. An analysis of this data has revealed key points of interest pertinent to project outcomes:
1.Parents express a desire for increased clarity concerning their children's learning, especially throughout the projects, and seek guidance on how best to support their children.
2. Parents aspire to be active participants in the learning process, with a particular focus on goal-setting and engagement within the learning and feedback cycle.
3. Parents are eager to understand how they can support their children in applying acquired knowledge and facilitate meaningful connections.
Building upon this exploration stage, REAL School has delineated the following success criteria, with a focus on the insights derived from effective feedback and involving our entire learning community, especially parents, in the feedback and assessment cycle within our Dream to Reality process:
1.Develop a framework for sharing research and project outcomes within the context of the 'explore, design, deliver, and sustain' model.
2. Evaluate the impact on learning and project outcomes through feedback from parents and the wider community.
3. Provide educators with clear resources, strategies, and tools to facilitate and bolster parental involvement in the assessment and feedback process.
Stage 2: Design
Throughout the academic year 2022-2023, REAL School has directed its attention towards providing parents with greater insight into their children's progress during the mid-term phase of projects. A dedicated time and space have been allocated for parents to provide constructive feedback to learner groups at this juncture. Parents are apprised of the driving question for each project and the anticipated outcomes by the project's conclusion. To facilitate workshop planning, REAL School has proffered milestone dates to parents and the broader learning community, enabling a precise timeframe for collaborative work alongside teachers and learners during exhibitions and target-setting sessions. This approach ensures that effective feedback not only reaches learners but also contributes to meaningful impact on students, teaching and learning within the school, and parents' involvement in their children's education at home.
The typical approach includes the following components:
Feedback and Improvement Parent Expo: Parents are afforded the opportunity to review initial drafts of student work, products, prototypes, presentations, and the evolving learning process, with a particular focus on providing constructive feedback within the 'do, redo, share, and review' cycle. This exposition also offers insights into subject areas and is supplemented by regular updates through the school newsletter.
2. Target Setting for the Upcoming Term: A 30-minute meeting involving teachers, parents, and learners to align and discuss three goals, along with strategies for achievement and success criteria.
3. Final Exhibition: Students present their culminating pieces and demonstrate how they have leveraged feedback and support from parents and the wider community to enhance their final works.
Stage 3: Deliver
The Parental and Improvement Parent Expo took place on the 14th of June, boasting a 100% attendance rate among parents and relevant stakeholders. This event, strategically promoted and marketed, targeted parents of our 10-year-old learners. The primary focus of the event centred on imparting specific training to parents on what constitutes effective feedback, with a special emphasis on the principles of being kind, specific, and helpful. Preceding the event, parents were provided with access to materials related to Austin's Butterfly. The workshop concentrated on enhancing feedback provided to children during exhibitions and in their home-based learning environments.
This workshop for parents underscored the importance of providing constructive feedback within the school community. The session commenced with the facilitator demonstrating vulnerability and transparency, acknowledging the challenges associated with preparing children for sustainable performance. This approach resonated with parents who had actively supported their children in their performance preparations at home.
The session began with an introduction to the concept of feedback, highlighting the significance of collaborative effort, premised on the notion that 'we are only as good as the way we work together.' The workshop, attended by approximately 30 adults and Erasmus partners, screened a video by Simon Sinek on Critical Feedback. The video garnered positive feedback from a range of parents who appreciated Sinek's perspective. This screening ignited engaging discussions among participants concerning the tenets of effective feedback, and their enthusiasm was palpable.
Participants were encouraged to share their perspectives on effective feedback, leading to group discussions that generated concrete ideas, particularly in the context of their children's education. The workshop introduced the 'Diamond 9' activity as a tool to foster collaborative discussions and prioritise constructive feedback. Parents were tasked with ranking 'things to consider when giving constructive feedback' from least to most important.
The workshop underscored the significance of consistency and coherence within the community. A productive debate unfolded, with a focus on delivering respectful feedback. Participants increasingly prioritised identifying the most important elements in feedback delivery over the less significant aspects.
The session also featured a video of Ron Berger discussing Austin's Butterfly, drawing parallels between the video, the dress rehearsal, and the role of parents in supporting their children. An interactive activity followed, enabling parents to practice providing kind, specific, and actionable feedback, aligning with the school's approach.
Parents expressed appreciation for the well-crafted invitation from the school to attend such sessions and demonstrated inspiration and interest in the materials presented. The workshop's dynamics evolved continuously, creating a dynamic and engaging learning environment for all involved.
Stage 4: Sustain
Throughout the ERASMUS+ project, we have considered avenues to sustain this vital work with parents, as their voices remain paramount in the development and growth of our community. We have gathered feedback and data from the parent community concerning the workshop, their future needs, and expectations. The feedback received is summarised below: