Context

Meghan Byrne is in her 6th year of teaching and her second year at Boston Collegiate Charter School in the city of Dorchester, Mass. Her Engagement Project work focused on an English Language Arts class with 23 students who are high-needs, many of whom have individualized learning plans.

Meghan participated in the Engagement Project as part of a partnership with Transforming Education.

Reaction to initial surveys

Meghan always scored high on Teacher Caring, so she decided to focus on Feedback for Growth after her first survey scores were lower on that measure. “Maybe my students are only understanding feedback in a limited way as grades,” she thought, after seeing the initial results.

New approach

To better understand how to improve her Feedback for Growth, Meghan decided to go straight to the source -- her students -- to discuss the Engagement Project. She believes relationship building is a key component of her teaching, and she does a lot of that work through conversations and discussions with her students. She described the project and her goals in detail and checked her students’ assumptions, even ensuring that they were using the same definitions of terms like Feedback for Growth. She publicly resolved to her students to be more explicit when she is providing feedback and to provide personalized feedback three times per week. She thinks that this public goal-setting -- which created a space where teachers and students can communicate honestly and vulnerably -- helped her students to really appreciate her effort, to feel cared for, and to feel invested in her success as a teacher.

Outcomes

Meghan’s survey scores on Feedback for Growth improved by 29 percent and she achieved a 27 percent improvement in Meaningful Work. She advises other teachers considering the Engagement Project to talk about their results with other teachers and with students, who “like to know that they are being heard and can have ideas.”