"Can We Talk Feedback?"

I want to speak with you as though we were having a cup of coffee at your favorite barista. Just 4 seconds about me: For over two decades I have taught elementary, middle, and graduate students. I was also a principal for close to 10 years. Now, I teach very part time while working for Kaizena and run my own business

Enough about me. Bottom line: I speak teacher.

I have seen, heard, and felt the magic that transpires in a classroom. Like you, I have made many decisions in a span of minutes (the average is 3.56 decisions/minute). I designed lessons that were awesome and those that stank. I empathized with parents’ concerns and internally groaned each time I heard, “My child is a genius.” Like you, my heart broke each time a child shared a horror story (abuse, neglect, divorce, self-deprecating remarks). Do you still have all the letters of thanks you randomly received from former students who are successful and they attribute their success to you? I do!

Teachers  are in essence, “in loco parentis” - in the place of the parent. Teachers don’t enter the field for the money; we do it because we hear a calling, we feel the passion, and we want to make a difference in the future. My personal motto is: I serve those who shall serve. We take on this role and at times it can be quite burdensome.

One of those burdens I found was the F word.


I was teaching over 150 students and provided feedback on their work. As a principal, I wrote feedback on the students’ progress reports that teachers wrote. My wife can attest that the 2 weeks prior to report cards being sent out, I would wake up two hours earlier than usual (2am) to grade and provide feedback.

We all know that providing feedback is key for growth. My teammates at Kaizena offered feedback on this and all the other articles I write. After all, I am learning, too.

Let me specify: providing effective feedback is key for growth.

Simply writing “good job” won’t cut it.

Stating “excellent” is insufficient.

Putting down “not quite” won’t lead to learning.

They are general. They look, sound, and feel superficial. They lack guidance. Remember, we are guides. We guide the learner - be it a student or colleague. We do that by offering effective feedback.

According to ASCD, effective feedback is:

  1. goal referenced
  2. tangible
  3. transparent
  4. actionable
  5. user-friendly
  6. timely
  7. ongoing
  8. consistent
  9. progress toward a goal

Yikes! That’s a lot. No wonder a knee-jerk reaction is to say I have “no time to give and use feedback.”  And here is the perfect response to yourself: that phrase  actually means "no time to cause learning.”

Ooh. That hurts. Yeah, the truth hurts. To learn requires input and feedback, plain and simple.

This is why Kaizena was created.

We know that authentic valuable feedback takes time to compose. Kaizena’s feedback tools allow you to provide that type of feedback more effectively and efficiently. Using voice comments, skills, lessons, and rubrics, speeds up the feedback process, individualizes the learning process,  and increases the probability of learning taking place.

Don’t believe me? Check these out.

1: Text vs. Voice. Time yourself typing the following feedback and stating it vertabitm: “This is a coherent paragraph that clearly leads the reader to understand Joan’s anguish over the loss of her husband. “

How did you do?  It took me 14 seconds to type and 7 seconds to read (a 50% reduction).

2. Lesson vs. Text:  When I read report cards, one of the issues I found was comma usage (or misuse). Here is an example that still sticks with me from my days as a principal:

“Johnny’s understanding of the grammatical rules is, satisfactory but, only on work, by which he focuses, for more than the lifespan, of tze-tze fly.”

Now, despite that the language may not go over well with the parents, the comma misuse drove me nuts. And, there were several teachers who needed help with comma usage. Had I had Kaizena back then, I could have created 1 lesson and placed it on every teacher’s report instead of writing out the rule.

3. Skills and Rubrics

When I started using rubrics to evaluate students’ skills, my efficiency increased. However, I used more paper and because it was in hard copy, I would individually change rubrics to meet each student’s goals and needs (as I individualized the instruction). Using Kaizena’s skills and rubric builder, I can individualize the evaluation much more quickly (and while saving a few trees). In addition, Kaizena tracks students’ proficiency levels of skills automatically. Boom! Another time saver.

Here is a video showing you just how easy Kaizena is to use:


In conclusion, (proper comma placement, by the way), one of our jobs - whether we be teachers, administrators, leaders, co-workers, parents -  is to provide authentic relevant feedback. If we care about “the other’s learning” - that is, the person receiving the feedback - then it is our responsibility to relay it in a meaningful way. Kaizena is a fantastic feedback tool to help us reach that goal.

Ariel Margolis
Ariel has designed innovative instructional and e-learning curricula for more than twenty years. He is Director of Student Support Services and Adjunct Lecturer in special education at Hebrew College.
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Try Kaizena for Yourself

Review up to 75% faster than typing with Voice Comments. Embed explainer videos in three clicks. Track Skills and we'll auto-complete your rubric. Welcome to the future of feedback.