The Power of Connection, Part 2

Feedback is not advice, praise, or evaluation. Feedback is information about how we are doing in our efforts to reach a goal.

Grant Wiggins

In Part One of The Power of Connection, we explored connection through collaboration. Feedback is a second aspect of connection, which we will explore today.

Let me start with a story about my daughter’s swimming career. She had been a swimmer since a young age, starting at our local YMCA as a “Guppy”. She progressed as most young swimmers do, learning how not to sink and swimming strokes beyond the dog paddle.

One of her teachers, “Will”, recognized her swimming ability and encouraged some private lessons, still at the YMCA. As an observer and a teacher, I noticed that during lessons, Will was giving my daughter consistent, actionable feedback. He would say, “move your legs like this” or “create a scoop shape with your hand as you do an arm stroke in the water”. She could focus her attention on a movement to pay attention to how it felt as she was practicing the technique; in addition, she still had in her mind the “before” movement and its new friend, the corrected movement. In this, she was able to self-correct after, making the learning her own.

In their text, Empower, John Spencer and AJ Juliani note that feedback can look a myriad of ways. Reflection on ones’ own work, peer-to-peer, teacher-student– these learning tools encourage and develop a collaborative partnership, moving toward an interdependent state (2017) where looking critically at ones’ own and others’ work is valued as much as the work itself.

One feedback tool is the Gallery Walk. In the Gallery Walk, students receive and offer feedback at a variety of points in their work. The Walks can be on paper or digital; in-person or virtual. The basic structure is the same.

Two keys to the Gallery walk: 1. Offer participants a specific area of focus. This will support more detailed, refined responses from observers. 2. Provide criteria on which observers can base their feedback (Larmer & Allen, 2013). In tandem, these keys will help observers focus their feedback and creator cause to look more critically at their own work.

Ultimately, feedback develops connections–to self and others. It can be used as a tool to build the classroom’s culture of interconnectedness; it also helps students understand that critique and criticism are different. Students will build their collaborative muscles which benefits them now in schools as well as in their future work endeavors.


Larmer, J., & Allen, C. (2013, September 9). Using gallery walks for critique & revision in PBL. PBLWorks.

Spencer, J., & Juliani, A. J. (2017). Empower: What happens when students own their learning. Impress, LP.

Wiggins, G. The collective wisdom of authors published in the September 2012 issue of Educational Leadership: “Feedback for Learning.” (Volume 70, Issue 1).

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