Recommended books on feedback and language

Getting good at feedback is mostly about practice. Lots and lots of practice. And being very clear on the type of feedback the person is looking for and making sure the feedback attends to that. There are, though, some texts I’ve found to be useful for crafting better, more thoughtful feedback to education authors.

Books that Focus on Feedback

Tell Me So I Can Hear You: A Developmental Approach to Feedback for Educators by Eleanor Drago-Severson and Jessica Blum-DeStefano, 2017. (Google Books)

The authors of the book do a very thoughtful, considerate job of framing feedback and the space between intention and impact. They provide useful strategies for crafting feedback that’s useful and meaningful.

Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well (even when it is Off Base, Unfair, Poorly Delivered, and Frankly, You’re Not in the Mood) by Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen, 2014. (Google Books)

Although the primary audience is people receiving feedback, it’s a helpful read for giving feedback and considering how words or messages may land on the intended audience.

Books that Focus on Word Choice

Choice Words: How Our Language Affects Children’s Learning by Peter H. Johnston, 2004 (Google Books)

Although the content is directed at classroom teachers, Johnston does a masterful job helping adults consider how the use of particular words and phrases have an impact that goes beyond a single exchange or context.

Schooltalk: Rethinking What We Say About–And To–Students Every Day by Mica Pollock, 2017 (Google Books)

Pollock invites the reader to consider how we talk about education and how we frame arguments and context can have a significant impact on a reader’s understanding of education issues. They’re reminders I try to keep in mind when I read texts I’ve been asked to review.

The Power of Our Words: Teacher Language that Helps Children Learn by Paula Denton and Lora M. Hodges, 2013 (Google Books)

Denton provides a number of examples and scripts of how to frame feedback and open ended questions that are great starters for feedback for adults.

Books that Focus on Systemic Language and Frameworks

How to Be Heard: Ten Lessons Teachers Need to Advocate for Their Students and Profession By Celine Coggins, 2017 (Google Books)

Focused on public advocacy, Coggins’ book identifies several themes that are helpful for connecting individual educator work to larger systemic issues.
Raising Race Questions: Whiteness and Inquiry in Education by Ali Michael, 2015 (Google Books)

Even when educators don’t explicitly ask for feedback related to race, gender, or disability, I read manuscripts with some of the questions raised in this book in mind. They’ve helped me identify topics or issues I might want to raise with an author.
“We’ve Been Doing It Your Way Long Enough” Choosing the Culturally Relevant Classroom by Janice Baines, Carmen Tisdale, Susi Long, 2018 (Google Books)

Similar to Johnston’s book, the intended audience is classroom teachers but the book speaks to a number of issues that are important to keep in mind when reading any text that may end up being used to inform classroom practice.

Breaking Bad Habits of Race and Gender: Transforming Identity in Schools
By Sarah Marie Stitzlein, 2008. (Google Books)

Stitzlein identifies a series of habits that educators likely picked up during their time as a student or pre-service studies and invites the reader to sit with the tension between well-meaning actions and holding up systems of racism and sexism.

Other Useful Texts

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