Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Close the Loop. Feedback and SmartMusic.

Feedback is important in teaching.

Carefully crafted coaching advice and encouragement is a big part of what we do.

Sometimes kids miss opportunities to help themselves and reflect on what they do.  There is a big opportunity with SmartMusic.  On the SmartMusic student home screen is a list of turned in assignments.  This list also shows that the instructor has left feedback or if it is pending.

If you are listening to your kids' projects (and you should!) take the time to leave the advice and encouragement.  They worked hard on these.  I listen to every single one that I get back.  I also leave a note with each one as well.

Need some help with that?

I think you can find something you like about every assignment.  So first things first, write about what you liked.  First.

If there was something that could go better, write about that too.  You do want your students to get better and telling them how is a big part of that.  I put that advice in "Minnesota Nice" speak.  Usually, in terms of you should do this (what to fix) next and what it will do for them.

For example, "You should try blowing in the small end, it will improve your tone."

If the performance wasn't so hot and needed some serious work, I offer to resend it.  Just talk to me at the end of class and I will send it again.  I like to leave some time at the end of the term to make sure I can turn the second attempt around in time for the report cards.   I think these projects should be more than busy work for the grade book.  They should be worth doing well because they build the student's skills for the future.

If the performance was fantastic and just what you wanted, don't forget to add a "Way to go!" on the end.

Is what I am describing sounding like some work for the teacher?  It is, but not much work and it is the kind of work you can do in your spare minutes.  I think that SmartMusic is not a tool that will help you get your job done significantly faster.  It will keep your recordings, comments and scores organized.  But most of us don't need a lot of help with that.

Will it help your students do better?  Yes.  Everyone knows that practicing something wrong takes a long time to fix.  Think of it as wrong note prevention.  The red/green note thing is huge for that.

Will it help you do your job better?  Yes, it will if you take time to leave feedback.  Remember that teaching is very much about the relationships.  Well crafted feedback will help with that.  

Close the loop.

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