“With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility” The Power of Teacher Feedback

6.4 Using Assessment to Provide Feedback to Students

Teacher’s feedback to students is timely and of consistently high quality.

“With great power comes great responsibility”  

The sage advice Uncle Ben gave to Peter Parker (Spiderman, if you’re not familiar with Marvel) is highly applicable to teacher feedback.  Teachers have the power to profoundly impact their students either negatively or positively with the feedback they give.  The value of feedback to student learning is my biggest takeaway from this course.


This graphic illustrates the process of giving calculated, purposeful feedback to students.

Feedback comes in many forms — formal, informal, verbal, and written.  High quality feedback is value neutral, focuses on intended learning, and identifies strengths and weaknesses.  When giving feedback, teachers need to be mindful of how much the student can address at one time.  In other words, do not overwhelm them with too many things to fix at once.  You do not want to cause the student to give up.  Timing is key, feedback needs to be given within a reasonable amount of time so that student are given optimal time for learning, reflection, and to make changes/improvements.  Descriptive, effective feedback helps promote a growth mindset in learners.  Feedback can be used to strategically close gaps in student learning and understanding.  When a student receives a grade on an assignment, they need to understand why they received that grade.  This includes knowing what they did well, and what they need to work on.  In other words, excellent feedback encourages students to participate in metacognition and to take accountability and ownership of their learning.  Too often, students receive a grade on an assignment without any explanation.  This is a great disservice to the learner.


This graphic shows seven helpful pointers concerning feedback from teachers to students.

In my current position as a paraeducator I don’t have opportunities to give formal written feedback, but I will in my future teaching career.  When giving feedback, teachers need to carefully consider their word choice.  I am guilty of verbally giving vague praise and feedback such as “good job” or “nice”.  While these types of statements may make a student feel good in the moment, it doesn’t give them anything valuable or useful to work with.  Research shows that ineffective feedback can do more harm than good.  Since my knowledge of feedback has expanded, I have been working on giving strong specific feedback.  I will tell a student “I like how hard you’re working” or “I like how you are prepared for class and ready to learn”.  This is more powerful than general approval.

As I get closer to my student teaching, I am thinking about the feedback I will receive.  I want to learn and grow as an educator and for this to happen, I need feedback from my mentors. I will be actively modeling the growth mindset I want to promote in my students.  During my student teaching I will need to be receptive to constructive criticism.  This will come easily to me because I like learning from those who have more knowledge and expertise than I do.  I need to be able to translate the feedback I receive into practice and actions.  Feedback is a necessary part of the learning process for students of any age or ability.  As a lifelong learner and teacher, I will be both giving and receiving feedback in an effort to further my own learning and my students’.

Video on Feedback


Hattie, J., & Timperley, H. (2007, March). The Power of Feedback. Review of Educational Research, 77, 81-112. doi:10.3102/003465430298487

Seven Things to Remember About Feedback. (2012, August 21). Retrieved from http://inservice.ascd.org/?s=feedback


Keeping Students Safe

Academics are obviously a primary focus of teachers.  Scholastics are definitely important, but we must also look at our students as individuals, not just scholars.  Educators seek to help their students to be successful and learn, but we also want them to be physically and emotionally well.  It goes without saying that teachers care about their students and their well-being.   If students do not feel safe, they will not be successful learners.  This falls under the broader topic of creating a safe classroom learning environment for all students. There are many components to accomplishing this.  First, you want students to feel safe taking academic risks and making mistakes.  This means that you as a teacher need to ensure that students adhere to classroom norms of respect and kindness.  Teachers need to take any actions or words that constitute bullying are quickly shut down so that students know those behaviors are not tolerated.  

One of the sad but necessary responsibilities of teachers is to report suspected cases of child abuse, neglect, and violence.  They also must report when they feel a student is mentally ill and in danger of harming themselves or others (see figure 1)


Figure 1: Teacher responsibility regarding student suicide prevention

.  This requires attention to detail and communication (see figure 2).


Figure 2: This image shows the cycle that teachers need to be aware of

 Teachers spend a great deal of time with their students which gives them insight into changes in their behavior and demeanor that are indicative of a serious problem.  For some kids, school is the only source of stability in their lives.  This is why relationship-building is an important part of a teacher’s job.   Making a student feel valued and heard, especially if they are going through something traumatic, makes a profound difference in their lives.   It is possible that as a trusted adult in a child’s life, they may confide in you.  In these situations, it is vital that the teacher reports their findings and suspicions to their school administrators and counselors.  I discussed this issue with my mentor teacher and she gave me some helpful advice.  She said you can never be too careful, and it is better to be safe than sorry.  She also said it is wise for teachers to make a report in an email even if they communicated the information verbally so they have proof that they did their part.  

I did my observations at a middle school in the Kent School District.  The district adheres to the Washington state laws regarding the reporting of child abuse (see figure 3).  If a teacher has reasonable cause to believe there is a case of child abuse, they have 48 hours to their supervisor who will then get the appropriate authorities involved.


Figure 3: This is a relevant excerpt from the KSD Manual

Reporting child abuse is something I hope I never have to do, but I must be prepared to do so.  Unfortunately, it is very likely that I will encounter this problem in my teaching career and when it arises, I will do my part without hesitation to keep my student safe.


Classroom Mental Health. (2015). Classroom Mental Health | A Teacher’s Toolkit. Retrieved from https://www.classroommentalhealth.org/

Kent School District. (2016). Kent School District Handbook. Retrieved from http://www.kent.k12.wa.us/cms/lib/WA01001454/Centricity/Domain/10/Substitute%20Handbook.pdf

Suicide Prevention Resource Center. (n.d.). Role of Teachers in Preventing Suicide. Retrieved from file:///C:/Users/Dani/Downloads/Role%20of%20Teachers%20in%20Preventing%20Suicide%20(1).pdf