Helpful, honest feedback is one of the most valuable things that we can give to our students. When it is geared towards the student’s individual performance, it highlights their unique strengths and areas for improvement. This makes a tremendous difference towards their success in their language learning journey. The feedback that is positive outlining the student’s strengths gives them the confidence to continue. The feedback that is direct gives them clear goals for improvement. Both of these together give the student and parents the perfect balance of constructive feedback to master their craft, their sport, or in this case their second language.
We all want the student to succeed, and even though this feedback must be unique, it does not mean that we need to reinvent our format and style each time we write a student progress report. There is a Feedback format that we can follow that will both enable the student and aid the parents as assistants in their learning. For each student and each lesson you teach, no matter what age, what strengths, or what lesson type, helpful feedback can follow the same format.
Address the Parent
Write your feedback in a professional and friendly tone as if you are speaking directly to the parent. It should be direct and objective but also polite. Try your best to use active voice in your writing as this is more easily understood and will translate better. Also, Take advantage! This is your opportunity to communicate directly with the parent and make a lasting impression so that they remember to book you again! You can also include a direct note to the student for extra encouragement.
Review the Lesson Content
Provide a brief review of the content that was covered in the lesson. Think of this as an aid to remind parents and students of what was covered to help refresh their memory without needing to look at the playback of the lesson. I repeat, keep it brief! This should not become the complete lesson in documented form, it should just cover the:
- Highlights of the lesson
- Lesson objectives
This will be a reference point to help the parents to assist with homework or get more involved in what the child is learning.
Praise Sandwich vs. Feedback Wrap
If you are a teacher, you have undoubtedly heard of the compliment sandwich. Sticking some constructive criticism in between two compliments makes for a delicious and delicate delivery of feedback. I completely agree that there needs to be both praise and constructive feedback for the student, but does it need to be served up this way?
The praise sandwich can be a bit confusing to parents when looking for tangible things for the student to practice. This is why I prefer the Feedback Wrap.
The Feedback Wrap is simply a list of observations. First, list the student’s strengths first to build their confidence and then list the areas for improvement. You can even go one step further and give them ways to improve. Give the student clear instructions on what they can practice and work on. Then wrap it all up in positivity and clear actionable tasks so that the student knows exactly what to do to help them turn their current weaknesses into their strengths.
Closing & Sign Off
Always end with a look into the future! I like to close by addressing the student and letting them know how happy I am to teach them and that I look forward to seeing them again soon. This helps to remind them that learning is a continual process and that there will be several more lessons together. Remember to sign off using your screen name so that the parents can easily find you and book you again!