Montana Catholic Schools Weekly

March 14, 2016

The Importance of Feedback

We all tend to teach like we learned thus we struggle with people who don't learn like we did. In fact, our schools are filled with teachers who succeeded at school and therefore have trouble relating to those students who cannot. Furthermore, many of our teachers are used to respecting authority and struggle with students who cannot follow directives.


Many of those teachers go on to become administrators and their struggle continues with teachers. Armed with what they believe to be real power, they struggle when teachers don't follow directions and can't accept (the given) feedback. We need to take a step back and analyze how we are giving feedback. Are we trying to coerce? Or influence? We also need to consider how we are giving feedback.


It's March and my guess is teachers have used all their strategies on reluctant students, administrators have used all of their strategies on their instructional staffs, and we're all out of ideas and a bit tired. I thought it might serve us well to explore the topic of feedback: how to give it, how to solicit it, how to receive it, and what purpose it serves. Below you'll see a collection of articles about feedback that I grouped into different categories.


My takeaway on feedback centers on three points:

  1. My friend Jim McLaughlin coaches women's volleyball at Notre Dame. He has a 1% rule. "Let's try to get 1% better today," he'll say. What kind of feedback can you give to your students or teachers to help them get 1% better today?
  2. Feedback can be tough to deliver. From time to time, we need courage to do our jobs effectively.
  3. If you praise people for characteristics ("you're smart" or "you're pretty") you'll achieve less than if you praise for behaviors ("great effort" or "way to stick with it!")


My suggestion is to start at the bottom (Carol Dweck's video on feedback) and then explore a few topics. Enjoy!


Dr. Tim Uhl, Superintendent

The Week Ahead

Monday: meetings in Great Falls, drive to Billings

Tuesday: drive to Miles City (regional principal meeting); drive to Havre

Wednesday: meetings in Hays

Thursday: meeting in Hays (regional principal meeting)

Friday: return to Helena


This week: 1,358 miles

Last week: 625 driving miles; 1,237 air miles

2015-16: 19,512 driving miles; 10,151 air miles

What I'm Reading in 2016


  1. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (underway)
  2. The Heart of Change: Real-Life Stories of How People Change Their Organizations by John P. Kotter (underway)
  3. Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen (finished)
  4. Motion Leadership by Michael Fullan (finished)
  5. The Laws of Simplicity by John Maeda (finished)
  6. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (finished)
  7. Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeon (finished)
  8. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (finished)
  9. Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard by Chip & Greg Heath (finished)
  10. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (finished)
  11. It's Your Ship: Management Techniques from the Best Damn Ship in the Navy by Captain D. Michael Abrashoff (finished)

Montana Catholic Schools

Serving 3800+ students in 24 Catholic schools across the Treasure State

For Principals

  1. March regional meetings--March 15th at Miles City; March 17th at Hays; March 22nd at Butte. All meetings will start at 10 am and lunch will be provided by the hosts. Please RSVP to the hosts. I'll be sending out a separate email on March 14th with the resources.
  2. Congratulations to the Our Lady of Lourdes for a successful WCEA accreditation visit last week and thanks to the team: Sarah Stevens, Mary Lague, Michael O'Brien, Eric Vincent, and the incomparable chair, Kay Purcell.

Giving Instructional Feedback

Soliciting Feedback

Getting Feedback from your students

Miscellaneous Feedback articles

Carol Dweck: The Effect of Praise on Mindsets