“Thank you for your feedback.” – Feeling ‘feedback’

‘Feedback’ is an essential part of continuous growth and improvement. As I blogged about in my previous post Goals, Habits and Growth we all benefit from ‘feedback’. We all get feedback in different ways from different sources. Feedback is, in its essence, someone’s response to a situation or another’s actions. I have been pondering lately though if the word ‘feedback’ is really the right terminology to help us open our minds to being receivers of this ‘stuff’ coming back at us. Especially given that feedback is designed or intended to be a catalyst for growth.

When we look at the two definitions for ‘feedback’ in the dictionary, sometimes this one; ‘a screeching or humming sound resulting from the return of a fraction of the output signal from an amplifier, microphone, or other device to the input of the same device.’ can feel like a more apt description than what is intended; ‘information about reactions to a product, a person’s performance of a task, etc. which is used as a basis for improvement.‘. Sometimes ‘feedback’ is more about feelings than we realise and can weigh us down rather than lift us up to take action.

In the IB education world, when we talk about ‘feedback’ it has now been reframed as ‘feedback to feedforward’. This definitely shifts the emphasis. No longer does the word convey the feeling of a load that you then carry but as a process that you journey on to grow. It shifts from something that is ‘done to us’ to something that empowers us. I do think this reframing is helpful for us all as it gives the ownership back to the receiver and becomes an active and not finite experience.

Reframing the term ‘feedback’ is helpful and exploring this with students and colleagues can only benefit any learning community. Discussing how we all want ‘feedback to feedforward’ to actually feel and what impact we hope it will have can help create a culture of sharing information to create and grow. Unpacking the meaning and co creating understandings together will ensure that everyone is more united in understanding the intention behind giving and receiving ‘feedback’. For me, I found that simply rephrasing to ask for ‘input’ as opposed to ‘feedback’ shifted the experience in discussions to be a much more forward facing one. What is even more crucial though is to learn how to navigate processing what we hear, to dig into the impact of the information we receive and use it to grow.

Here are some interesting Ted talks to provoke deeper thought on the topic. I am eager to keep exploring the process of how we use ‘feedback’ to inform, to grow and to transform.