The Feedback Formula: How to Give Effective Feedback to Your Teachers

When it comes to giving feedback, there’s a right way and a wrong way to do it. And unfortunately, far too often, the feedback that instructional leaders give is ineffective at best and downright counterproductive at worst. If you’re looking to give feedback that will actually help your teachers grow and improve, then this blog post is for you. Keep reading to learn the Feedback Formula—a simple yet powerful three-step framework for giving effective feedback.

The Feedback Formula

The Feedback Formula is a simple yet powerful three-step framework for giving effective feedback. Here’s how it works:

Step 1: Identify the Desired Outcome

The first step in giving effective feedback is to identify the desired outcome. In other words, what do you want your teacher to do differently as a result of receiving this feedback? This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s actually crucial. Without a clear desired outcome, your feedback will likely be vague and unhelpful.

For example, let’s say you observe a teacher who is having difficulty managing his or her classroom. A common (yet ineffective) bit of feedback in this situation would be something like, “You need to be more assertive with your students.” However, this kind of feedback doesn’t really tell the teacher what he or she should do differently. It’s much more helpful to say something like, “I noticed that some of your students were off task during today’s lesson. In the future, I’d like to see you use more verbal cues and nonverbal cues to keep all of your students engaged.”

Step 2: Describe the Current Reality

Once you’ve identified the desired outcome, the next step is to describe the current reality. In other words, what are you seeing that isn’t aligned with the desired outcome? Again, it’s important to be specific here. Vague statements like “you’re not doing a good job” or “you need to try harder” are unhelpful and will only serve to frustrate the person you’re trying to help.

Continuing with our previous example, let’s say that you observed a teacher who was having difficulty managing his or her classroom. A helpful way to describe the current reality would be something like this: “I noticed that some of your students were off task during today’s lesson. When this happened, I noticed that you didn’t use any verbal or nonverbal cues to get them back on track.”

Step 3: Offer Specific Suggestions for Improvement

The final step in giving effective feedback is to offer specific suggestions for improvement. Remember, your goal is to help the person you’re giving feedback to grow and improve, so be sure to offer specific suggestions that will actually help them meet their goals. Simply telling someone that they need to do better isn’t going to cut it—you need to offer specific advice on what they can do differently moving forward.

Returning one last time to our example of the teacher who was having difficulty managing his or her classroom, an effective way to end the conversation would be with specific suggestions for improvement such as these:

  • In the future, when some of your students start to get off task, try using verbal cues like calling on individual students by name or making eye contact with specific students around the room.
  • You might also want to try using nonverbal cues like walking around the room or clapping your hands to get everyone’s attention back on you.
  • Finally, don’t forget that you can also use positive reinforcement to encourage your students to stay on task. For example, you could praise individual students or groups of students when they’re doing a good job paying attention.

The next time you need to give feedback—whether it’s to a teacher or anyone else—keep the Feedback Formula in mind. By following these three simple steps—identifying the desired outcome; describing the current reality; and offering specific suggestions for improvement—you can give feedback that is clear, concise, and most importantly, helpful!

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