As a school leader, you know that giving feedback is an essential part of your job. But giving feedback to teachers after an observation can be tricky. On one hand, you want to be honest and direct with your feedback so that the teacher can improve. On the other hand, you don’t want to be so critical that the teacher feels attacked or discouraged. So, how can you strike the right balance?
Here are some do’s and don’ts for giving feedback to teachers after an observation.
DO: Be Specific
The first step in giving feedback is to be specific. Instead of saying, “Good job!” or “I liked what you did,” try to pinpoint exactly what it is that you observed that you liked. For example, “I noticed that you made eye contact with all of your students while you were speaking.” This type of specific feedback is much more useful than general praise because it helps the teacher understand what they are doing well and why it matters.
DON’T: Be Vague
On the other hand, you don’t want to be too vague with your feedback. Telling a teacher “You need to work on your classroom management” is not helpful because it doesn’t give the teacher any guidance on how to improve. If you want to give helpful feedback, you need to be specific about what the teacher can do differently. For example, “I noticed that there were several times when students were talking out of turn and disrupting the class. Next time, I suggest that you try calling on students by raise their hands instead of calling out their names.” This type of specific advice will help the teacher understand what they need to work on and how they can improve.
DO: Give Constructive Criticism
It’s important to remember that even though you are critiquing the teacher’s performance, you are still on the same team. Your goal should be to help the teacher grow and improve, not to tear them down. With that in mind, always give constructive criticism rather than just criticism. For example, if you observed a teacher who was having trouble managing her classroom, you might say something like this: “I noticed that there were several times when students were talking out of turn and disrupting the class. Next time, I suggest that you try calling on students by raising their hands instead of calling out their names. Have you tried this before? If not, I would be happy to model this strategy for you during our next coaching session.” This type of constructive criticism includes specific advice as well as an offer to help the teacher implement the advice.
DO: Avoid Global Statements
It can be tempting to make global statements about a teacher’s performance after an observation but try to avoid doing this if possible. For example, avoid saying things like “You need to work on your energy level” or “You need to be more engaging with your students.” These types of statements make it sound like everything about the teacher’s performance needs improvement, which is not only discouraging but also not true! Instead, focus on one or two specific areas that the teacher can work on improving.
DON'T: Make Assumptions
It’s important not to make assumptions about why a teacher is doing something–or not doing something–that you observing. For example, if you see a teacher who isn’t making eye contact with her students, don’t assume that she doesn’t care about them or is disinterested in teaching them. There could be any number of reasons why she isn’t making eye contact–maybe she’s shy or introverted; maybe she’s trying to avoid staring at a student who is misbehaving; maybe she has a vision impairment and is having trouble seeing her students from across the room–so it’s important not to jump to conclusions without knowing all of the facts first! Conclusion:
Giving feedback–particularly after an observation–can be tricky but it’s important to get it right! By following these do’s and don’ts, you’ll be sure to strike the perfect balance between honest and helpful so that you can give teachers the feedback they need in order grow and improve as educators!