Feedback Instruments + Critical Reflection= Best Practices

Instructors who administer formation or summative feedback assessments will have valuable information to help them become more effective teachers. Formative assessments are administered throughout a course. Summative assessments are given at the end. Instructors who encourage students to provide honest feedback will learn valuable information about their effectiveness as a teacher.

Personally I choose formative assessments. I want to know how I am doing throughout the course I am teaching. Why? I know that I will not sit in a class or workshop where I am not benefiting from being there. I also know that when I am not stimulated or engaged I really don’t feel like wasting anymore time filling out a summative assessment.

Back to assessments, so we implemented a formative or summative assessment. We read and analysed the data. Hopefully our learners have answered the questions with honest feedback. If we have done a formative assessment we are fortunate to have the classroom to discuss the results with. Summative assessments do not provide that opportunity but we still have data to analyze.

Now what?

Positive feedback makes us feel accomplished. We have done our job well! If there is negative feedback we don’t feel so good, maybe a little hurt and insulted. Absolutely acceptable and really quite normal 🙂 It is what we do next that is important.

Teachers are human and we come with our own values, beliefs and life experiences. This is where our assumptions are born. Don’t forget we are the experts here! Positive feedback feels good and our confidence soars. We assume we are in the zone! Conducting the classroom like a philharmonic conductor!  Warning! Postitive feedback can also lull us into a place of stagnation and routine. A dangerous place for a teacher.

Negative feedback is the bitter pill. Doesn’t taste good or feel good. This is where we might become defensive, judgemental and reactive.

Guess what! Both types of feedback is where you will find the gold! Gawd another metaphor!

So what do we do next? Well you don’t have to ‘feeling around in the dark for the light switch’ so to speak. Told you this blogger loves her metaphors!  After feedback is the time to stop and reflect, not act! “The process of identifying and researching our assumption to make sure they are accurate and valid for the students and content we teach is what I regard as critical reflection” (Brookfield, 2015, p. 20).

Critical reflection is the cornerstone of skillful teaching. Get out a blank journal and start writing.

Critical reflection is a process by which we become informed about our effectiveness, energize our teaching and revitalize our practice.

Stephen Brookfield gives us the formula for critical reflection. “Critical reflection happens best when we check the accuracy of our actions and assumptions through 4 complementary lenses:

  • The students’ eyes
  • Colleagues perceptions
  • Literature
  • Our own autobiography ” (Brookfield, 2015, p. 20)

And to sum it all up we owe it to ourselves and our learners to engage in critical reflection. Use those assessments to enhance our practice and grow as an effective and skillful teacher.

“Mindful teaching practiced with awareness that things are rarely what they seem”(Brookfield, 2015, p.22). That is why critical reflection is so important.


Brookfield, S. D. (2015). The skillful teacher: On technique, trust, and responsiveness in the classroom. Hoboken, NJ, United States: John Wiley & Sons.



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