Episode 81 – Effective Feedback with Eleni Kyritsis


Dan: (00:00)
Hi everyone. And welcome to the effective teaching podcast. I’m your host, Dan Jackson. And today I am talking to one of my great friends and mentors, Eleni Kyritsis. So welcome back, Eleni, cause you have been on our show before.

Eleni: (00:14)
Thanks then. Yes, I am delighted to be back and happy to be here. Chatting with you today.

Dan: (00:21)
Yeah. Now since last time you’ve actually changed roles. So you’re now the deputy head of junior school and you’re a community leader at Mote, which is something you are gonna talk to us a little bit about today on the show. You’re still the 2017 ACC II educator of the year and the educators rising staff for 2019 and in 2019, you’re also at EdTech in Asia where the winner of the best STEM program. So, you know, you’re a bit of a big deal, really.

Eleni: (00:50)
I don’t like to see myself like that. I’m just like you I’m just like every other teacher out there. Um, but yeah, I’m happy to be here today and to talk everything feedback with you.

Dan: (01:00)
Yeah. Yes. We are talking feedback today. Yes. It’s not just about you as mote. It’s about feedback. So can you tell us why feedback is important for our students?

Eleni: (01:10)
I think every teacher who will be listening to this knows how important feedback is it’s for our students to be able to see, hear, and then act upon whatever we tell them. It’s also not only from the teacher point of view, but also from fellow students. Um, the way that we give feedback in the classroom is typically written or verbal. And I know even saying verbal feedback in the classroom to get around to everyone in the class within one period, for instance is not always possible. And I know this is something that I felt I sometimes didn’t do as well when I, I mean the classroom, um, getting around to everyone and providing that feedback. Cause we know how important it is for our students to hear, you know, how they going and ways they can improve their learning. So yeah, I think it’s super important and it’s something that I think sometimes we forget about as teachers are so busy delivering the content that the feedback sometimes gets pushed aside.

Dan: (02:12)
Yeah, definitely. I feel like teachers quite frequently will focus on the content and push through it and not think about actually constantly, checking in. Like I’m really big on feedback being part of your kind of formative assessment aspect. And so you need to constantly checking in with your students to check where they are so that you can give them the right kind of feedback in terms of what they need. So how do we provide feedback? How do you see effective feedback? Cause I think there’s a big difference between just feedback that’s given and feedback that actually leads our students forward in their learning. What can you tell me how you provide effective feedback?

Eleni: (02:48)
Yeah, So simple feedback, like good jobs. I like this well done is not really.

Dan: (02:54)
And don’t talk about that. That is not what I want to hear from you right now.

Eleni: (02:59)
I think the feedback that we need to be providing our kids has to be meaningful. We need to question them and get them to sort of think of the answers themselves. So if you’ve provided them with a task and you know, they’re not quite there or you need to extend so to suggest things, but get students who actually think of it themselves. I think that’s the kind of feedback you want to provide because at the end of the day, you’re not always going to be there to give that feedback to your students. Um, whether it’s this year, next year or years to come. And we know as we are setting up lifelong learners, we want them to have the skills to be able to reflect on their self and then to think, how can I improve? And I think that’s really important that they think of ways themselves, rather than you as a teacher, just going, that’s great, but can you do this? Or, you know, giving them the suggestions, actually leading them into think of it themselves. It also gives them more ownership and sort of the drive to want to do more, rather than seeing it, oh the teachers just told me I have to do this sort of thing. And yeah,

Dan: (04:02)
I’ve gotta say Dylan Williams actually talks about when you’re giving feedback for it to come with a recipe for success. Right. So you’re not giving them the answer you’re giving them what they need to then go off and find the answer.

Eleni: (04:14)
You’re absolutely right. Yeah. And the other thing I love about feedback is I use it as well as a teacher. So sometimes I don’t even, I asked the students to reflect on my teaching practice and I think that’s also important in the classroom with them to say that, you know, you as a teacher also model how you can improve and think of ways to support them at their point of need and them to have input as well. I think that’s important as well. Whenever we’re talking about feedback that, you know, a teacher, doesn’t just say it as them giving the feedback, but also students giving the teacher feedback and also peers giving each other feedback, um, throughout the learning that’s taking place.

Dan: (04:57)
Yeah. And I think that holiday of peers giving each other feedback is particularly important as we look to try to shape our students, to becoming, you know, you’re talking about lifelong learning in there because they’re then getting the skills of what does success look like in terms of how can I then help my friend or another student to go forward? So how does giving feedback or feedback as itself actually help students to become lifelong learners?

Eleni: (05:20)
Well, I think it’s just that form of communication. And we know that, um, you know, and I hate saying this of 21st century skills because it’s been in the 21st century years now, but you know, those skills, those soft skills or whatever you want to call them, that we know we want our kids to be enabled to approach these unknown jobs of the future and needs, we know communication and being in effective communicators. And you know, sometimes hearing feedback isn’t always positive, but the way that we can teach them in the classroom to provide peer feedback. And they’re saying something as well as something constructive, you know, find that juggle and to understand that you don’t just go in and say, that’s terrible. Um, your ideas, you know, I throw it in the bean and start again, but you know, actually work with the person to work out what they can improve on and where to go next.

Eleni: (06:14)
And I think they’re really important skills that we need to teach in the classroom because they don’t just come naturally. Even for us as teachers, it doesn’t come naturally, you know, you could walk around and the amount of time spent will say, great job. You know, I really liked how you did this and you know, it still comes in. You as a teacher sometimes go. Ah, I shouldn’t have said that, you know, how can I provide more constructive feedback and you know, keep thinking of it. But the more we model it and the more we sort of ask our students to provide that feedback to each other as well, I think is really, really important. And the ideas that they come up with, uh, and the feedback they can actually gain once, you know, it doesn’t happen overnight. You’re not going to have students providing amazing feedback. The first time you apply, you have to work on these with your students. But once I get to a level, you know, and you sit there and you listen to the way they’re communicating and extracting and the changes they’re making to their learning, it’s quite amazing like where students can support each other with the learning. So if it’s done right, it can be done really well. And it’s reflected in their positivity, the way the outcomes are achieved.

Dan: (07:24)
Yeah, yeah. You are. Yeah. You said you’re a community leader for motor at the moment. How can mote actually be used to help us with our feedback? Because know, we’re talking here about how we can help students help each other and providing feedback. And our teachers provide timely feedback that actually helps students to know what to do next as they not telling them the answer, but how to find the answer. How does mote help us with that?

Eleni: (07:46)
So we know as teachers, the majority of the feedback we provide is verbal and verbal feedback is really important. But as a teacher, we know we can’t get around to everyone in the class. So providing feedback on work typically becomes written. So we write a little note in the corner of someone’s book, or we add a comment in Google docs or whatever platform you’re using as feedback to students. Now I know myself, am I likely going to read that feedback? I know when I was at school, I can ask you Dan, how many times did you write those little notes that the teacher left you in the book? I didn’t really not many. Yes. The team has spent so much time doing that and they don’t even listen like grade it. So what mote has done is if anyone hasn’t heard of them, definitely check it at the aim of mode and to type less.

Eleni: (08:38)
And that’s exactly what it does. So it’s a little extension that lives in your Chrome browser. When you click on it, you can record your voice in a short audio clip and leave that feedback on student work. So instead of typing in the comment, books is to provide feedback, which also takes a while because you can’t just provide feedback. You know, I know as a teacher report comments, whenever we’re writing something, we brought the same thing over and over. And then we think, Oh, are they going to understand that? And then we have to go back and read it. You could spend up to 20 minutes writing one comment, one student, really steeply. But this, with your voice saves time, you just click the button record and she was thinking he your voice. And what I love about it is I have a little joke with my students in class, especially the younger ones.

Eleni: (09:27)
When they forget the capital letters, I sort of joke with them. Sometimes I say, “did the full stop, stay in bed today”. Like, did they not decide to come to school? So we make a little joke about it and then they remember it and then they sort of act on it. We can’t really write that comment when you’re providing feedback. Like, did you leave your bed? She doesn’t going to look at you being like, what is she talking about? But for your voice and the way the students interact with you and the relationships you build with the students, you can actually provide even more meaningful feedback that they can connect with and sort of have a laugh about. So it’s not, you know, bad feedback, you forgot your full stops, but it’s more of a reminder, Hey, don’t forget that, you know, they need to be in your piece of writing or whatever it is as well. So I think that’s really important when you are providing feedback and voice is so powerful for students. They want to hear you. They want to be able to interact more with you. And yet with Mark, you can do it with a click of a button.

Dan: (10:27)
Yeah. And I’m going to say the number of times I’ve, you know, type an email and then re-read it and then re typed it and then thought about it again and tied to it. Again, I constantly thinking, can the person read this the wrong way? You know? And that I use emojis quite frequently now just because it sets the tone for the email. Like it, it makes sure people aren’t, don’t, aren’t hearing it like I’m yelling at them, but you can read it like that. You know? And so I find with, with mote, when you record something and when you’re like talking to your students, they’re not going to misunderstand your tone and how you’re actually delivering the feedback either. They’ll kind of read it. Like you’re being cranky with them. They’re going to read it the way that you are actually talking. And so if you’re providing feedback, even though it might be critical, if you’ve got a positive sense in your voice, as you do that, they’re getting that in mode words, they’re not going to get that in a written format.

Eleni: (11:19)
Exactly. Right. And I think your voice is so powerful. Students love hearing from their teachers. And the great thing is that they can even record their voice back to you. So, you know, they can say, you know, yes, full stop was tied today. I’ll make sure he comes back to class tomorrow. You know, you can have a bit of a joke with them in these short little comments, um, which makes it really easy and fun as well. So, you know, I know when you write comments, majority of kids don’t read them, they’ll just hit result and thinking you think they’ve read it, but realistically they probably haven’t. And we know that as teachers really secretly have you read it, would you rate it if you were a student or would you rather click on a button, press play and he teaches voice

Dan: (12:04)
You as you yeah. You’re new to your role as deputy. But I know as I was deputy for quite a while and I’d send messages and stuff and comments on things for teachers, and I know they don’t, and that’s where a teacher and yet they’re doing it for their kids too. And I’m like, well, if I could have just sent them a mote and would have been a lot easier.

Eleni: (12:22)
Yeah. And it works in, um, JML as well. So you can record straight into JML and everything. And the newest feature that’s only been released over the weekend, which I actually don’t know you’ve seen yet is you can actually record your voice that in Google forms. So for younger students, you know, instead of them typing their response, they can just record their voice and give it to you, which really helps us well for you all, you know, learners who don’t speak English, but you know, they not, who can’t talk to explain that what they’re saying, they can just record their voice and share their learning. So it is really powerful in the way you collect stuff and collect information and also share things to support their learning.

Dan: (13:06)
Cool. Now, what one thing can our teachers do this week then as they implementing feedback, what should they do this week to do it? Well,

Eleni: (13:15)
I think ensure that you provide feedback to all your students. I think that’s really, really important and also have a go at using mote, make it a bit of fun in your classroom as well. Um, you know, it’s quick and easy and get your students to have a go giving you feedback as well. Using the simple extension, um, a little trick non-tech related that I used to do in my classroom. These actually came from my students when I asked them that feedback. Um, they said to me that I always seem to go to the same people within the classroom and I didn’t get around to enough people. And I’m happy to admit that, you know, I’m sure Dan, when you’re in the classroom, you always go to those students who, you know, struggling because you need to support them to make sure they know what they’re doing.

Eleni: (14:01)
And then you sort of skim the room quickly and you might touch base with a couple here or there, but you don’t really see everyone. So what my students made came up with an idea. They didn’t make me, but when I thought it was great, so I did it is they all had their own little pig that they want their school uniform. And my job was to ensure that I collected a pig from everyone throughout the day. And you know, something as simple as that means, you’ve actually seen your students. Face-to-face, you’ve interacted with them. You’ve seen how they’ve gone. And then, you know, at home you can have a simple checklist and follow up and tick off on this list, you know, who have I seen and give them that little feedback. And, you know, even just in a beautiful comment, like, I really like how you’ve written something by him, you know, can you expand on this idea more?

Eleni: (14:51)
You know, something like that, then the next lesson, they all go to their work and they’ve all got something there from you. I think that’s really important. Um, particularly in the writing process that she didn’t get that feedback throughout the pace rather than at the end. And I think that’s typical for writing as well, because we know we don’t get around to everyone, but if you can provide that feedback sort of where it’s needed throughout the process really helps kids to make the changes during the process rather than at the end, because I know if I’ve written a story and then you say, I’ll go back and change it. Like, well, you know, I don’t want to go back. I’m happy with how it is sort of thing. So I spent all that work exactly right. You’re telling me the wrong and now I have to change everything again. Like what a waste of time. So ensuring that you do follow up and I think, you know, talk to them in class, but then, you know, a quick little snippet, a quick little idea on their work, they can then open up on the next lesson and go from there as well, I think is really, really important.

Dan: (15:57)
Beautiful. Well, anyway, thank you so much for joining me today. And can you just, is there somewhere where people can come and find you to connect with you further?

Eleni: (16:04)
Yeah. You can write chat to me on Twitter or Instagram @MissKyritsis. I’m sure. Dan will be able to get you in contact with me if you’re having trouble spelling or finding me, um, reach out if you have any questions or need any help or support, I’m always here to help educators. Yeah.

Dan: (16:21)
And so I will definitely have stuff. So if you’d go to the shownotes at teacherspd.net/81 you’ll land on this episode, there’ll be links there to Eleni’s website. It’ll be links to her social profiles as well. And also there’ll be links there to how you can go and connect and get yourself onto mote to use that if you want to use that this week to give some feedback to your students. So thank you very much Eleni and I hope to see you again soon.

Eleni: (16:47)
Perfect. Thanks for having me. And hopefully you’ll see me again soon. Bye.

About Eleni

Eleni Kyritsis is an award-winning teacher with an outstanding contribution to the Australian education community. She is Deputy Head of Junior School, and Community leader at Mote. She is a Google-certified innovator and trainer, Apple teacher, Microsoft Innovative Education Expert, and a Hapara-certified educator. 

Eleni was awarded the DLTV Victorian Educator of the Year in 2016 and the  ACCE Australian Educator of the Year in 2017. AND the 2019 EduTech Asia winner for best STEM program.

You can connect with Eleni on her website, Twitter and Instagram.

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