I spent the past couple days at the Indiana District Lutheran Teachers Conference in Ft. Wayne, IN — a gathering of Lutheran school teachers from across the state. It was an honor to have the opportunity to share educational thoughts and ideas with this group, in part because I spent 11 years in this district serving at Calvary Lutheran in Indianapolis. The joy of re-connecting with so many friends and former colleagues was immense.
As my first session ended (entitled The Power of One: Personalized Learning Across the Grades), Krista Nagy, a principal from the Ft. Wayne area whom I follow on Twitter, approached me, thanking me for the session, but also sharing some thoughts about additional elements that might make this session even more effective. Here were her ideas:
- I emphasized the importance and power of student questioning, but I did not do as much as I could to connect this questioning to the personalization of empowering students to pursue answers to their questions.
- Assessment for personalization was not addressed as fully as it could have been. So many teachers and schools are concerned about fairness in assessments, which is a challenge for personalization.
Admittedly, if this conversation had occurred several years ago I probably would have become defensive and been bothered by this conversation the rest of the day. In my immaturity and insecurity I would have stewed about this, bemoaning the less-than-perfect reception to my session. However, I have come to really appreciate people like Krista who actively engage in the process of honing each other for future service. Krista provided some GREAT feedback. It was so appreciated, and I am already actively incorporating her ideas into future sessions. In fact, in my second session of the day I added a comment about assessment based on her thought, immediately seeking to apply this honing to my work with educators.
Do you allow others to hone your thinking? Do you actively seek out ideas from your students, principal, colleagues, and parents? And when ideas are shared, do you chose those ideas that will make your classroom a better place? Or are the defenses set up in such a way as to make this impossible?
This is not to say that all feedback is valuable. We all have been the receiver of venting and remarks that were unfair. But does that jade your view of constructive feedback? It is my hope that all of us in education, and particularly those of us who teach in Lutheran schools, can continue to hone each other so that are students may receive that absolute best from each of us every day.