Blog Introduction: As a school principal or instructional coach, you know that giving feedback to teachers after an observation is crucial for helping them improve their practice. But giving feedback can be tricky. How do you strike the right balance between being critical and being supportive? How do you ensure that your feedback is constructive and actionable?
Here are five tips for giving feedback to teachers after an observation:
- Be concise.
It can be tempting to give a play-by-play of everything you saw during an observation, but resist the urge. Your goal should be to provide the teacher with a few key insights that will help them make small, specific changes in their practice. If you try to cover too much ground, you’ll overwhelm the teacher and make it less likely that they’ll actually act on your feedback. Stick to the essentials.
- Be objective.
When you’re giving feedback, it’s important to avoid making value judgments about the teacher’s character or abilities. For example, instead of saying “you’re too loud,” try “I noticed that your voice carried throughout the room.” This communicates the same message but without putting the teacher on the defensive. Remember, your goal is to help the teacher improve, not to critique them as a person.
- Use “I” statements.
When providing feedback, use phrases like “I noticed,” “I saw,” or “I heard.” This will help the teacher feel like you’re on their side and that you’re working together to improve their practice. Avoid using phrases like “you need” or “you should,” which can come across as bossy or judgmental.
- Focus on one thing at a time .
It can be tempting to try to cover everything at once, but it’s more effective to focus on one specific area at a time. This way, the teacher can make small, manageable changes in their practice rather than feeling overwhelmed by everything they need to work on. You can always provide additional feedback later down the line.
- Be specific .
Vague comments like “good job” or “keep up the good work” might feel nice in the moment, but they don’t actually provide any useful information that the teacher can use to improve their practice. If you want your feedback to be truly helpful, you need to be as specific as possible. For example, instead of saying “your lesson was well-organized,” try “I noticed that you had a clear plan for each day’s activities.” The more specific you can be, the better.
Giving feedback is an important part of being a school principal or instructional coach, but it’s not always easy to get it right. By following these five tips—being concise, objective, using “I” statements, focusing on one thing at a time , and being specific —you can ensure that your feedback is constructive and actionable, and that it will help teachers improve their practice moving forward.