Creating a Third Point

Providing Meaningful Feedback

As mentors we are often called upon to provide feedback. So how do we do this in a respectful and meaningful manner? Creating a “third point” can greatly assist as it helps shift the focus away from personal to external.

Thinking about our scaling questions example may be helpful:

  • How did you do this morning? – personal
  • From 1 to 10, how was the lesson? – external, third point

Practical Ideas

Collaboration vs. “Face-offs”

If you and your colleague are sitting down for any planning, reflecting or problem solving conversation, position the chairs at 45 degree angle rather than directly facing each other. This is also a great set up for parent – teacher interviews where you can sit in this collaborative stance with student work on the table in front of you both as the third point.

Similarly, using hand gestures you can metaphorically place the problem or challenge in the physical space in front of you both during a learning focused conversation.

Observation vs. Impression

Often when we provide feedback without meaning to we imply judgement. Here is an example:

  • The students were out of control – perception, implies personal judgement
  • During the lesson four students left their seat – observation of behaviour, third point
Avoiding “You Should”

As mentors we are often called upon for input and advice and certainly based on individual needs this is an important component of the consultant stance. That said, if there are two words we strive to avoid using in mentoring conversations they are “you should” – for example:

  • You should make sure everyone is listening and paying attention before you begin the lesson – feels like a command
  • Something that worked for me was using a signal to focus students before giving instructions – feels like an idea