Teacher feedback is definitely the most important and useful feedback you can get.

They’re the ones who see your face all year at school, they’ve gotten to know you very well over a year, and crucially, they’re the ones that have been marking your answers.

One of the worst things you can do is to ask a really vague question.

So, we’re here to walk you through our simple 2 step process to get the most out of your teacher feedback!

Step 1: Know what to ask
Step 2: Put the feedback into action!

Step 1: Know what to ask

Deciphering your teacher’s feedback is a skill; it will be developed over the year as you get to know your teacher and their handwriting.

It’s very important you understand exactly what you’re teacher is trying to tell you, that feedback is there to help you improve. So if you don’t know what it says, ask!

Clarify doubts about any topics you’re unsure about. If you don’t have anything in particular, a good place to start is to go through an exam paper with your teacher.

PRO TIP: Show your teacher all the questions you got wrong, and ask what they were looking for in particular. Usually a more useful way of asking this question would be: “What can I add to my answer to make it better?”

Types of Questions

You may have a lot of general questions, but the best thing you can do to get the most out of feedback is the follow-up question.

This is what turns generic feedback, into feedback specific to you!

It’s also incredibly helpful to write down all the questions you have.

Don’t just wing it, you might forget something, or realise the questions you have are different, or perhaps that your questions are all really similar.

Type 1: “Why did I get this question wrong?”

You’re teacher will usually respond with where you have fallen short for that particular response. Don’t just leave it at that though!

Possible follow-up questions: Ask how you can implement the feedback they just gave you next time. Ask if they have a sample response that they would consider a good answer.

Type 2: “How should I write this answer?”

Your teacher will probably tell you exactly what they’re looking for in quite some detail! Don’t just go up to your teacher, and expect to hold all their feedback in your head.

Write down your question on a piece of paper, and then ask your teacher. As your teacher is giving you suggestions, write them down!

Tip: Write down your question, and write down your teacher’s feedback. It will make it easier to remember, and your teacher will also be able to see what they’re saying since you’re writing it down in front of them! It also is helpful to them to see if they’ve missed anything. When finished ask them something like “Is this all I need to do, to get full marks?”

Step 2: Put the feedback into action!

This is arguably the most important part, you may think you understood your teacher feedback, but there is only one way to truly know.

Try and re-write your answers with your old answer side by side and with the feedback in mind.

This is not a test, you don’t need to hide your old answer. The goal is to make the perfect answer so you have a reference for later. Once you’re done, go back to your teachers!

PRO TIP: Show your teachers your new answers, to see if you’ve really improved.

Going above and beyond

You should also consider, setting yourself up for the future. If you have an open communication channel with your teacher, use it to help get the most out of yourself.

Here are some useful questions to help guide you:
  • What are some things you think I should work on?
  • I don’t understand topic X, do you have time to explain it to me again?
  • I think I struggle with X, do you agree?

These questions, are incredibly useful to help you gauge where you’re at.

Sometimes what you think you struggle with, may not agree with your teacher, it’s better to find out from the person who sees you most, and marks your work!

So, there we have it! Good luck with your teacher feedback!

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Vamsi Srinivasan is looking to uncover the next hidden truth of the universe. He was fascinated by the beauty of Physics and Mathematics during his HSC. Now, he’s in his third year of a dual degree in Physics/Computer Science. Vamsi wanted to share his passion for Maths and Physics and has been an Art of Smart coach for the past 3 years. He coaches students in Physics as well as all ranges of HSC Maths from General to Extension 2. In his spare time you can find him watching Tennis or listening to his favourite podcast ‘Hello Internet’.