Favoring Feedforward Rather Than Feedback

Forward ArrowBy Elizabeth Jorgensen

In my approach to providing feedback and assessing student work, my students produce multiple drafts and then use my feedback to elevate their work. In each assignment, students compose at least three drafts and receive at least three rounds of feedback from me. In addition to this, students receive feedback from peers. But I have struggled with why other teachers don’t want to provide this type of feedback. Do they find it too time consuming? Do they not know what to say to elevate student writing? Are they too attached to rubrics?

I believe growth and learning happens when students edit, modify and update work. This philosophy is the bedrock of my classroom structure and helps justify the time I spend providing feedback.

Today, I read the article “Moving from Feedback to Feedforward by Jennifer Gonzales. Gonzales explains why the feedback teachers traditionally give might not be the most effective. This article also put a fancy name to the type of feedback I provide my students: feedforward.

Jennifer Gonzalez states “the experience of school could be described as one long feedback session, where every day, people show up with the goal of improving, while other people tell them how to do it. And it doesn’t always go well. As we give and receive feedback, people get defensive. Feelings get hurt. Too often, the improvements we’re going for don’t happen, because the feedback isn’t given in a way that the receiver can embrace.”

Gonzalez references The Feedback Fix by Joe Hirsch. In this book, she says Hirsch explains that feedforward is more effective than feedback because it regenerates talents and expands possibilities; it’s particular and authentic; and it’s impactful and redefines dynamics between people.

Gonzalez suggests instead of providing feedback that focuses on past performance, teachers should focus on students’ improvement going forward. Gonzalez wrote, “Instead of waiting until she is finished, then marking up all the errors and giving it a grade, I would read parts of the essay while she is writing it, point out things I’m noticing, and ask her questions to get her thinking about how she might improve it.” Gonzalez’s suggestion is consistent with my classroom structure and model. I wonder if teachers shift from a backwards approach to a forward approach if students will learn, grow and ultimately enjoy school more. I also wonder if teachers would be more inclined to provide feedback if they saw the direct connection to progress.

As Gonzalez wrote, “There’s nothing simple or straightforward about telling people how to improve. So it’s no surprise that we’re still figuring it out and finding new ways to refine it. If the feedback you’re giving to your students, your coworkers, and even the people at home isn’t having quite the effect you intend, try shifting to a feedforward approach. Doing so can help us, as Hirsch says, stop seeing ourselves just as who we are, but who we are becoming.”

Being Confident as a Counselor

school-1413366_640By Sabrina Bartels

One of the best things I did when I became a counselor is join the Facebook group called “Caught in the Middle School Counselors.” It’s a group of middle school counselors from around the nation who use the page to ask advice, celebrate triumphs, and support each other through tough times. People post ideas for bulletin boards, classroom lessons, and any trends that they have noticed.

Recently, one of the counselors asked, “How long did it take for you to feel really confident in your position?” And I had to laugh a little. The truth is, I have been doing this for five years now, and there are still days where I feel like I’m fresh out of grad school and meeting with my very first student ever. My confidence varies day by day, student by student, and definitely situation by situation.

As I scrolled the comments, I was relieved that there were others who were in the same boat as me. Some of the counselors responded that they were in their 15th or 16th year of counseling, and still occasionally felt like they weren’t completely confident in what they were doing! It comforted me that even seasoned veterans at counseling still experience doubts sometimes.

My confidence was especially shaky this last week. I spent the last half of my week feeling like I was drowning. I would create a to-do list, and due to various emergencies, would only get through maybe two items on my list. I was constantly busy, but felt like I wasn’t actually getting anything done. I would even stay late to finish up paperwork, but would still go home feeling frustrated with myself. (I blame the super blood blue moon, or whatever that epic lunar experience was on Wednesday.) I kept thinking that somehow, people more experienced than me would have a better handle on things, or at least be able to accomplish more on their to-do list.

One night, I told one of my coworkers that I felt like I just couldn’t keep my head above water. I was getting overwhelmed with everything, and was mad at myself for not doing more and being more. And he gave me great advice. He told me to go home, relax, and remember that I had made a difference to all the students I met with. I hadn’t looked at it like that before. I had been so caught up in thinking about the students that I hadn’t gotten to meet with, that I completely forgot about all the students I did meet with throughout the day. It made me feel better, knowing that even though it was a tough week, I had been there for my students when they needed me.

I remember thinking when I was in grad school that I would have so much confidence after my first few years on the job. And while I do in some ways (I no longer bat an eye when a teacher asks me to have a hygiene talk with a student) I am definitely still learning and slowly gaining confidence in my skills. Being a counselor is a process. It is definitely not a career where you can just wake up and be “better.” It does take time, and patience, and love both for the students you care for and for yourself. But as tough as it is, I have to say that every challenge, struggle, and long night is worth it.

Getting to Know Coreen Bukowski

The College of Education is excited to continue allowing students to better know its faculty and staff. Ms. Coreen Bukowski is the Academic Coordinator for the Department of Counselor Education & Counseling Psychology (CECP) here at the College of Education. We interviewed Ms. Bukowski so that our students can learn more about her!

Where did you grow up? How long have you lived in Milwaukee?

I was born and raised in Brookfield, Wisconsin, and now reside in South Milwaukee with my husband (Joe) and two sons (Joey and John).  Since I began my employment with Marquette University in 1987, I’ve been providing service to others.  Specifically, in my first position at Marquette I was a Representative in the Student Loan Accounts Office.  In 1993, I changed careers from business to academia within the College of Education as a Program Coordinator in the Hartman Center.  In 2007, I was given the opportunity to be an Academic Coordinator in the Department of Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology (CECP).  Academia is exciting to me because I not only watch students grow, but I learn from them as well.  Furthermore, I am a 2000 Marquette University graduate, having earned a Bachelor’s in Arts and Sciences, and an avid Marquette basketball fan.

It sounds like you really enjoy your time here at MU! What inspires your work?

In my job I work with a diverse group of people and perform a variety of duties.  The best part of my job is working with current students, prospective students, student workers, and Marquette alumni.  My work is satisfying because I help those who are working towards helping others (as counselors, psychologist, etc.)!

What do you see as an exciting opportunity for this upcoming academic year?

In the CECP department, I am looking forward to an upcoming expansion of a new Master of Science specialization in Clinical Rehabilitation Counseling (starting fall 2019).  We believe this will bring in more students, as well as new staff and faculty to the department.  Not only is this an exciting opportunity for the department but the community as well!

So what activities to you do when you are outside of the office?

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In my time away from the department, I enjoy spending time with my family, friends, church and community activities.  In my time away from Milwaukee, I enjoy going to Marco Island, Florida for relaxing and Crivitz, Wisconsin, where I go hiking, fishing, and discovering the Northwoods.  I’ve been married to Joe since 1991 and we are very proud of our sons who are both MU undergraduates.  Furthermore, John graduated in May 2017 from Marquette’s physician assistant program and Joey will be graduating from Marquette’s Law School in May 2018.  If I am asked what my greatest blessings are, I say they call me “Mom.”

You can learn more about the College of Education along with our Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology program by visiting us online!

Questioning the Dominant Narrative

books-441866_640By Lupe Serna

Many times, the curriculum is presented through the same dominant narrative. Although this allows for consistency across classrooms, it restricts history teaching to a single story. On the other hand, if we present students with different perspectives and prompt them to question dominant narratives, we open the doors to critical analysis and historical thinking. As a result, students learn how to draw their own conclusions to interpret history, rather than merely accepting the dominant narrative.

Teaching students to question narratives and approach history through different view points can lead to the discovery of new information and facts that are usually disclosed from the dominant narrative of that historical time period.

The Mexican American Civil Rights Movement, also known as the Chicano Movement, is usually briefly mentioned in the classroom. For the most part, students receive a very general understanding of the topic as a fight against discrimination of Hispanics, the fight for farm workers’ rights alongside Cesar Chavez, and the fight for the restoration of land after the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.

Of course, there are various ways to present this topic. A controversial textbook, “Mexican American Heritage,” describes the Chicano Movement as an attempt to create division. After reading a few excerpts from the book in the article above, I personally did not agree with that perspective. I can see why some might have thought of the movement as one that went against American culture. However, as a Mexican American myself, I think of the Chicano movement as more of a search for identity.

When discussing the Chicano movement, I think it is necessary to go beyond discussing what happened and asking why did it happen? Ultimately, it is the Mexican American people who felt the need to fight for their rights and education. Thus, the focus should be on their own experiences and struggles. Why did Mexican Americans at the time decide to fight for their civil rights? How were they feeling at the time that made them take action? What were they struggling with that led them to take part in a movement?

These questions seem to have straight forward answers: they faced discrimination, their rights as workers were violated, they had limited access to education, among other reasons. That’s as far as discussions in the classroom usually go. The deeper problem that is usually overlooked is the tie to the struggle of identity.

In the movie Selena, there is a scene where her father perfectly describes the struggle of being Mexican American as having to please two different cultures and meeting the expectations of both groups, leading to the feeling of not being good enough to belong to either group.

After the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, many Mexicans were suddenly American. Mexican Americans struggled with this new identity, not completely Mexican but not completely American either. This article from a 1972 newspaper does a great job of explaining the identity crisis among Mexican Americans, claiming it as “One of the most pressing problems for a person of Mexican descent in the United States.” It goes on to talk about the discrimination that they face due to the color of their skin, the feelings of inferiority that they experience in the US, and the pressure to let go of their Mexican roots and customs.

Out of this identity crisis grew great pride in their mixed roots, taking on what came to be known as a Chicano identity. With that pride came awareness. Mexican Americans began to notice the manner in which they were treated differently, like is described in this poem. That awareness is what moved people to action and led to the voicing against injustices, the fight for civil rights and the fight for higher education, which was mostly led by student movements like the Movimiento Estudiantil Chicanx de Aztlán (MEChA).

Among some of the most well known activists of the Mexican American Civil Rights Movement are Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta, founders of the National Farm Workers Association, later known as the United Farm Workers union. The fight for farm workers’ rights is the most common story that is taught in regards to the Mexican American Civil Rights Movement.

A different side of the movement that is not usually included in the curriculum is the role of a secret FBI program, COINTELPRO, against activists. Left out of the curriculum and, as a result, not forming a part of students’ social studies knowledge is the use of repression and force against activists and radical groups in the sixties, especially the Black Movement.  This video talks more about the attacks against the Chicano Movement.

Most narratives included in the curriculum focus on the positive outcomes of historical topics. Students are not always exposed to the ugly parts of history that led to those victories. In the case of the Mexican American Civil Rights Movement, victories of activists like Cesar Chavez are commonly known, but left in the shadows are those who were silenced.

In the classroom, students should be encouraged to question both what is included in and what is left out of the dominant narrative. While they explore sources and different perspectives, they should question their credibility, their bias, their audience, their intention, and other factors that could influence the manner in which the topic is presented. This is a crucial step to incorporate into the classroom if we want students to learn how to sort out different perspectives to make their own interpretations of social studies.

Drawing from multiple primary sources when preparing for and teaching a lesson on any historical topic opens the doors to historical analysis for students. The sources above, along with the earlier video on COINTELPRO’s attacks on the Chicano Movement, present different information and perspectives on the Chicano Movement.

Social studies is about engaging students in critical thinking and analysis. A great way for them to partake in that is by questioning the narratives presented in the classroom, especially the dominant narrative. Participating in that questioning and inquiry leads to an expansion of students’ knowledge on historical topics because they learn to dig deeper and discover perspectives aside from the dominant narrative.

As teachers, that is what we are called to do — draw from multiple perspectives so that students can question the dominant narrative and make their own interpretations about the manner in which historical topics are presented.

Doing Too Much

An_apple_a_day_by_LD_CrossBy Stephanie Nicoletti

I think every single teacher would agree that their focus throughout the school year is for their students to grow academically and behaviorally. While behavior is important, academics seems to get the main focus throughout the year. I have been lucky enough to see a lot of academic growth this year — especially in literacy.

However, this has been our sole focus. While a lot of growth is excellent, we need to be cognizant of the fact that trying too much for academic growth can have the opposite effects. Often times, we try many different interventions, instructional practices and activities to meet the needs of every single student. Do not get me wrong, meeting the needs of every single student should always be our goal. But when too many initiatives are going around it places burn out on teachers and also on our students. We need to focus on tier one instruction, evaluate growth, and when that growth is limited that is when we intervene-one step at a time.

Supervisors and Supervisees: Advice from an Alumna

We caught up with CECP alum, Jaimie Hauch, to see how her career post-Marquette has been going!

Can you tell us a little about yourself? What’s your title, brief job description, academic background?

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I wear many hats at my current job. I am an individual provider (certified to work with both the mental health and substance abuse population), oversee our Intensive Outpatient Program, supervise interns, and engage in some administrative duties. I enjoy wearing many hats because no day is ever the same! I received my bachelor’s in Psychology and a minor in Business Management from Carroll University in Waukesha, WI. Then I came to Marquette where I received my master’s in Community Counseling.

 

How did your time at Marquette prepare you for your career? Were your expectations on target based on your experiences?

My time at Marquette provided me with a solid foundation to build my practice and career on.

How does your experience as a supervisor differ from your time as a supervisee? Does it affect your interactions with other co-workers?

It is very different being on the supervisor side vs. supervisee side, but I enjoy it. I feel my time as a supervisee has helped me grow into the supervisor that I am. I took away things that I enjoyed from my experiences as a supervisee and changed the things that I did not find helpful or found frustrating as a supervisee. For me personally, my role as a supervisor does not impact my interactions with my co-workers and I am grateful for that as I know it can be a difficult area for people. I have been blessed with a great team at West Grove Clinic and they all support me as a supervisor, which is great! I love knowing that if I need assistance, am having a hard day, or want to share accomplishments as a supervisor, I have co-workers that I can turn to for support.

What is your favorite Marquette memory?

My absolute favorite memory is getting to see Sara Bareilles in concert at Marquette.

What recommendations do you have for students and/or professionals supervising students?

For supervisors to remember their own experiences and to incorporate what they liked and to change what they didn’t like about their supervision experience. Additionally, to give constructive feedback – so share areas for the supervisee to improve on, but also high light their accomplishments. When the supervisee only hears poor feedback, I believe it reflects in their work. For supervisees – utilize the supervision time you are given and to come prepared to learn and have questions. To a certain extent, you get to make your supervision experience what you want it to be. So, if you are not actively engaged in your supervision, you likely are going to walk away from the supervision experience feeling a lack of fulfillment.

You can learn more about the College of Education along with our Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology program by visiting us online!

Students Explore Ideas, Make a Difference and Win Money in Teen Ink’s “If I Were Mayor…” Competition

LJ 1By Elizabeth Jorgensen

Teen Ink is a monthly teen magazine with over a half million readers. In addition to publishing student work online, Teen Ink also prints a monthly subscription magazine.

According to their website, Teen Ink is “devoted entirely to teenage writing, art, photos, and forums. For over 25 years, Teen Ink has offered teens the opportunity to publish their creative work and opinions on issues that affect their lives—everything from love and family to school, current events, and self-esteem. Hundreds of thousands of students, aged 13-19, have submitted their work to us and we have published more than 55,000 teens since 1989. Distributed through classrooms by English and Art teachers, and available in libraries nationwide, Teen Ink magazine offers some of the most thoughtful and creative work generated by teens today. We have no staff writers or artists; we depend completely on submissions from teenagers around the world for our content. Teen Ink has the largest distribution of any publication of its kind.”

In addition to publishing student work, they host writing competitions.

During the fall of 2017, Teen Ink editors asked students to compose an essay on this topic: “If I Were Mayor of My Town…” Students, in an essay of 1,000 words or less, wrote about which issues they would address and why. The winner, according to Teen Ink, would receive not only publication, but also $500 and the opportunity to interview Congressional candidate David Kim; $100 would be awarded to the second and third place winners; and seven honorable mentions would be recognized.

The deadline to submit essays was November 30th, 2017. And then, in the January 2018 issue, five student essays were published. One of my students, senior Cole Siepmann, was published. You can read his essay here. Readers were asked to vote for their favorite essay—with the winners and honorable mentions to be announced at a later date.

I want my creative writing students to engage in purposeful writing assignments. In this particular contest, I encouraged my students to first educate themselves on local government. We discussed the mayor’s role and read about famous mayors. In class, we spent time looking at the Waukesha County’s Mayor website. Students learned about what the mayor can and can’t do and made plans for what they would do in that role. As a class, we discussed how each student could use his or her passions to craft a successful essay.

I enjoyed hearing about what each student would change if they were mayor and I was impressed with my students’ ideas and passions. Each student had something to say—and something they wanted to contribute to their community. In addition to writing about their passions, the prize money and the chance at publication served as motivation for my students.

In his essay, Siepmann stated why he would be a good mayor: “I would improve the lives of Milwaukeeans by addressing the three major issues that influence our society most: drug abuse, education, and road repair.” Siepmann also stated how important the improvement of drug education is: “In addition to the drug treatment center, I will expand drug education and addiction programs in schools so children in our community know the lasting effects of drugs and addiction.” Siepmann also stated how roads are a major issue in the state of Wisconsin: “The amount of traffic in Milwaukee creates accidents, and is not what will bring our city future success. Rather than spending money on the inefficient and impractical trolley system, I will focus on decreasing traffic, making our roads safer, and making travel in and out of Milwaukee easier.

I am eagerly awaiting the contests results and even if Cole (or any other student of mine) doesn’t win, I am proud of his accomplishment.


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