Delivering Quality Feedback to Students and Educators

Heather Vaughan-Southard      

Quality feedback is key to progress for students and educators. Developing a method which inspires the recipient to get back to work can be difficult, especially in the age of standardization and fast-paced school and office dynamics.

Choreographer Liz Lerman, founder of what is now called Dance Exchange, created a process which I have found beneficial in-part and in-whole within many educational and social contexts.

Functional for all disciplines, the goal of this process is to improve the dialogue about the things we make. I have found that by placing critical conversations into objective scenarios, or by using the product of work to lead into discussions of habits of mind and patterns of behavior or artistry, we can use the tools of art-making to develop self-actualization. This isn’t new to the art educator, but perhaps a structured process for delivering feedback may be.

From Clara Martinez, a Teaching Artist working in Dance:
“As an educator I enjoy and look forward to using Liz Lerman’s Critical Response Process with K-12 students in schools, in the community, and in private studios. It allows the students who may not identify purely as athletes or technicians to have a sense of involvement beyond their bodies within physical work. This process presents an opportunity for them to delve into their observational skills and sense of inquiry, and participate in an informative discussion about how to create art and express themselves in an embodied way, and not simply criticize one’s training or physical skillsets.  After experiencing this process a few times, students are more intrigued and excited to make dances that come from a place of questioning as opposed to demonstrating competence to one another. “

The Critical Response Process (CRP) by Liz Lerman is available via The Dance Exchange or Amazon.

Roles and Process
In short, the CRP includes three roles (artist, audience, facilitator) and four stages.

The process includes:

1. Statements of Meaning; 2. Artist as Questioner; 3. Neutral Questions; and 4. Opinion Time.

For the purpose of educator effectiveness, the teacher and administrator could focus on the four stages and attempt to hold each other accountable for facilitating the conversation in the order the stages work best.

The intent of the questions within the four stages reframes the participants into roles of inquiry rather than mastery with declarations of what should or should not change. The hierarchy of audience (responder/administrator) determining the value of what is made shifts to bring awareness and discussion of to the intentions of the work (teaching) and whether the process produced an effective outcome.

An Overview of CRP within Teacher Observation and Evaluation
Within the process of teacher observation, a follow-up meeting would begin with the administrator stating what they witnessed to be valuable and could be followed by the teacher’s explanation of what was happening in relation to content, management, and standards. This stage of the CRP alone highlights what the administrator sees, perhaps revealing how the teacher could further explain their discipline and provide more information thus moving toward a deeper shared understanding.

Next, teachers could inquire about evidence of specific goals they were aiming for within their lesson or practice. Having the opportunity to drive the conversation places the teacher within a more active role within this process. In my experience, this illuminates the rigor of the preparation and depth of planning within their teaching while also creating a more dynamic relationship with the administrator.

For me, this created a more professional and harmonious balance to the experience deepening the sense that the evaluation process really is for me and not being done to me.

Neutral questions posed by the administrator continue the conversation, again highlighting the values of the administrator in a way that they are at-play-with and in consideration of the values of the teacher.

Lastly, opinions are welcomed if permitted by the artist (maker/educator). Agency continues to be one of the keys which unlocks the potential for quality feedback. If we aren’t open to hearing it, we aren’t able to apply it, making the delivery and content of quality feedback important.

In our Demonstrating Educator Effectiveness pilot meeting on May 24th, we’ll be moving through this process as a means for reconstructing Administrator-Educator Dialogue and as a tool for the arts classroom.

Interested in MAEIA Assessment Items related to Response processes?

Dance
D.T413 Critical Response Process

Critical Response Process

Music
M.T207 Music Listening Response

Music Listening Response

Theatre
M.E416 Theme Response- On Musicals

Theme Response—On Musicals

Visual Arts
M.E438 What’s the Big Idea

What’s the Big Idea?

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