The Gift of Feedback

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This special feature on Possip’s blog is thanks to educator and entrepreneur Lauren Sikes.  Lauren is the Founder and CEO of DesignEd, which innovates culture + curriculum in K-12 schools. She taught for thirteen years in public and private schools in New York City and Nashville, TN. DesignEd offers leadership and organizational development, teacher coaching, and curriculum design. Lauren’s experience as an educator and teacher leader informs DesignEd’s work of engaging with empathy to design intentional culture + curriculum.

The Gift of Feedback

If you are a school leader, how do your students, parents, and teachers experience your school?

How do you know?

If you are teacher, how do students and parents experience your classroom?

How do you know?

Boldly stated, feedback is a gift. Not asking for it is a missed opportunity. Without feedback, schools have to make assumptions about how people experience them. Without feedback, schools miss diverse perspectives that can help them design a better and unique educational experience for everyone.

Yet feedback is only a gift when it is used to improve. When schools and districts collect feedback, two things can happen:

  1. Schools know what to do with it and make immediate changes.
  2. Schools are overwhelmed by it and push it aside.

DesignEd helps schools in the latter category – schools who want to make changes but are overwhelmed by what to do with feedback when they get it.  DesignEd helps schools innovate culture + curriculum schools using a design thinking framework. Design thinking helps schools solve problems and create opportunities grounded in empathy and human-centered design. Culture + curriculum innovations are informed by feedback.  Even if you don’t use DesignEd, a design thinking framework could help your team take great action against feedback.

Possip and DesignEd share the mindset of feedback as a gift. Possip collects praise, feedback and information from parents in an accessible, easy-to-use way. DesignEd has seen Possip users who took the feedback from parents to design solutions. Early on in Possip’s existence, a first grade teacher, who was working with DesignEd, used parent feedback to improve the school’s homework policy – which had been a point of feedback for families. Using the feedback collected via Possip and surveying teachers and leaders in the school, she prototyped changes to the homework policy. After testing these changes, the newly redesigned homework policy revealed itself to be more manageable and meaningful for students and parents.

This teacher was able to use a key part of the design thinking framework: empathy.  Parent feedback gave her empathy for the experiences of kids and families. So rather than pushing a policy that wasn’t working, the teacher used design thinking to design a better experience for her students and parents. Parents and students were heard and valued, AND a teacher was empowered and able to make a transformational change for her school community.

Feedback is a gift – as long as you use it.