I have noticed that some students have a very difficult time receiving feedback. They want to turn in assignments (recordings of music demonstrating specific skills) and have that be the end of it. But it’s not the end. Sometimes based on the recording I would not consider the skill mastered. Attempted? Definitely. Mastered? Not quite. Other times there were problems with rhythms or note accuracy. In either case, feedback was given to help the student remedy the issue and re-submit. It took several months of repeating this process for students to understand what to do with the feedback. It doesn’t end because the assignment was turned in. It’s a continuous cycle to help learners grow.
There is also another key ingredient in meaningful feedback, and that is the relationship. In Learner Centered Innovation Katie Martin says,
“Providing feedback that improves performance must be preceded by belief in and care for the individual. Without a trusting relationship, feedback feels like criticism, and people tend to feel misunderstood or as if they don’t belong or are being judged.”
Along with students understanding what to do with feedback, we also need to make sure they understand the why. We give students feedback because we believe in them. Because we care about them. Because we want them to grow as learners, and in my classes, as musicians. This is another great reminder of why relationships are vital in all areas of education, and why we need to establish these relationships first. If we wait, it will be too late. The window will have passed, along with many missed opportunities. Relationships first, then true learning can occur.