Ok so this heading could be a bit misleading! What we are really talking about here is the gathering of intelligence. Not intelligence as in the ‘clever’ interpretation of the word, but intelligence as in the ‘information’ sense of the word, and that is what spies do, they gather intelligence. The challenge for the teacher is to gather intelligence as well, but not by using invisible ink and miniature cameras but by using deliberate strategies to gather information and by making more use of the type of information we gather anyway!
So what do we gather anyway and how do we go about it? Well we watch and listen, that’s what we do, to gather intelligence. Intelligence which tells us about the impact of our teaching. In its simplest form this looks like and sounds like watching the children’s body language and assessing the noise level in the class room. If we start with the former, body language it tells us an awful lot about how the children are reacting to the learning which is going on in the room. Some experts say that body language is the first line of communication – accounting for about 70%. So if we are only intent on our personal agenda, delivering our important messages, we might not be be focussed on what is coming back from the children in terms of body language and the messages conveyed.
Of course it is not as simple as looking out for the sneaky yawn or the laboured stretch (which might indicate tension rather than relaxation anyway). Our children are very adept at hiding their feelings of incompetence – blimey you don’t want to own up to not knowing, do you?!!
But we know our children, we know what learning looks like and we are very finely tuned to recognise when something is out of place. There’s a slight jarring in our peripheral vision, a slight raising of the voice or inflection which is unexpected. And this is the first layer of feedback we receive. Ignore it at your peril!
So there you have it! The first level of feedback we need to consider is the feedback we receive from our children – not the feedback we give them.
Tim Sully’s publication “A guide to feedback” is available for purchase here or call 01934 427508 for more information
For more information on this or any other school improvement or professional development issues please contact the Learning Exchange advisers on 01934 427508 or send us a quick email using this form.