Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Dreaded Feedback

I've been at school this week, and this afternoon I graduated with a Diploma in.... wait for it.... Giving Feedback. My day job involves teaching new graduates, who after a year of training with us are sent off into the wide world of independent practice. And teaching them "on the run" while we're trying to get the work done is sometimes really difficult.

To finish the course, we each had to watch a role play scenario of a graduate performing a routine task, something we teach every day, and we had to provide feedback to the graduate on their performance. An assessor then gave feedback on our feedback.

Nerve wracking? Intimidating? You bet. But the skills I've learned as a writer stood me in good stead. At our face to face critique group, we each read the same piece, then have 10 minutes for feedback. Receiving feedback, I write down as much as I can of what everyone says on the back of the piece. Then when the shock of the comments wears off (how could you not love it?), I can look back at the comments and look at the writing objectively and see my colleagues are probably right.

Giving feedback is much harder. Members of our group tend to use the feedback sandwich, with the "meat" sandwiched between positives, and it is very clear it is the work being critiqued, not the writer. We focus on how the writing could be improved rather than pointing out every negative in the work. And we all work very hard to ensure the comments are constructive.

So how did I go in the assessment? There was no pass or fail - just plenty of feedback, and it wasn't too bad. I know where I am right now, what I need to work on and I've been given suggestions on how best to achieve results. It was just like being at my critique group....

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