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Best Practices in Providing Feedback

Best Practices in Providing Feedback

Author: Trisha Fyfe

In this lesson, students examine actionable feedback and best practices in providing feedback in evaluation.

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Teacher Evaluation and Assessment

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Welcome. I'm Trisha Fyfe. And in today's video lesson, we'll dive into the lesson titled Best Practices in Providing Feedback. As we learn about this topic, we will work toward several learning objectives. Together, we'll use the following two questions to guide our learning in this video lesson. First, what is actionable feedback? And second, what are best practices in providing feedback in evaluation?

Let's start off by discussing the importance of actionable feedback. As teachers, it is essential to consider different approaches to improving our practices. Actionable feedback is an excellent tool that's supportive of teacher improvement. This type of thing that can be provided by an evaluator. And it offers feedback that is timely and specific. Suggestions for improvement that are measurable are a large piece to this type of feedback.

Actionable feedback should target specific areas of need, areas that are the most essential and areas that can be perfected in a short amount of time. It should also prioritize areas for improvement, focusing on just a few areas at a are time, therefore making it realistic and manageable for the teacher. Finally, actionable feedback should be presented both orally and in written form. This allows the teacher to reference the feedback after the observation conference.

This is not a quick and easy process. To develop and give actionable feedback can be time-consuming, as it's meant to be extremely meaningful for the recipient. It is, however, a vital tool for teachers, when we expect these teachers to improve practice for the purpose of improving student achievement.

Throughout these lessons, you will hear it mentioned again and again that access to high-quality, effective teachers is the single greatest factor in lessening the achievement gaps. This is according to both recent and ongoing research.

Let's make some connections between actionable feedback and best practices in the learning community. Effective practices, especially those modeled by an evaluator and peers, lead to feedback that is the strongest and most powerful. This is frequently indicated by teachers across the board. The practices that are modeled by peers and evaluators in effective ways are those that are seen in classroom settings.

For example, a teacher might participate in and observe accountable talk in their learning community, or with principals and evaluators. This same teacher is more likely to model this technique and use accountable talk with her students in the classroom. Student center questions are the starting point for many processes in teaching, including teacher evaluation.

Questions can be used, like, what do we want our students to know and be able to do? How will we get them there? How will we know if they know or are able to do something? What will we do if they are struggling? And what will we do if they master the goal ahead of time? The answers to these questions can help us structure pre- and post-conferences, bringing accountable talk into these conferences, and the evaluation process. Especially as it relates to feedback.

Here's an example of one that you might hear from an evaluator. In the pre-conference, we discussed using stations. Stations that included technology and student centered learning opportunities to actually engage students at various levels. However, during the observation, I observed that while there were stations the activities did not allow for student centered learning opportunities. How can we work together to ensure students have these students centered learning opportunities more often?

According to University of Pittsburgh Institute for Learning, student centered means that, one, all students must have access to the learning conversation. And two, the content of the talk must consistently further academic learning.

Let's talk about the components of actionable feedback. Feedback must include the expected goal or outcome that comes from change. And it should include expected measurable targets that come from change. We also need feedback that includes actions a teacher can take that will result in change. These actions must be connected to areas of need as far as improvement.

An observer simply cannot tell a teacher that they're not engaging in effective techniques for questioning. Instead, that observer should give this teacher specific details and actions that were noted. They should also guide the teacher in improvements that can be made to use effective questioning. It's essential for feedback to be clear and easy to understand. We should steer clear of any jargon. We should also use language that the teacher can relate back to their instruction.

Feedback should be timely. It should have come as soon as possible after the observation. This ensures that the teacher and evaluator have clear and recent memories of that observation.

It's important for the evaluator to revisit the feedback. Observations that are followed by updates are necessary. It's also important that these updates are specific to the area or areas of previous feedback. Specific feedback should be given to teachers. Feedback on progress that they're making toward meeting their goals.

Let's go through some examples. Here are three pieces of feedback. These three examples are not actionable feedback. First, I did not see any use of technology in your lesson. Second, I noticed students had a hard time with transitions and lost focus. And third piece of feedback, in your lesson today, I only observed the same five students raising their hands and being called on.

So how can we convert these to actionable feedback comments? Let's quickly look at a reminder of the components of actionable feedback. Take a moment and review this list of actionable feedback characteristics.

Let's convert these pieces of feedback. First, number one, I did not see any use of technology in your lesson. We can change this to something like, last observation, we talked about beginning to integrate technology into your lessons, to help increase student participation and engagement. I noticed today that this lesson did not offer any components of technology. I know of an upcoming teacher workshop on learning stations and technology integration, and I feel it would be very beneficial to you and your students. I suggest attending this training, and then we can set up a time for a second observation to check in.

Number two, I noticed students had a hard time with transitions and lost focus. We can change this to read, one of the areas that we've been working on with teachers in this grade level is student transitions. During my observations today, I noticed some students were having a hard time transitioning between activities. When moving from whole group instruction to small groups, there were several students that did not have a sense of direction. And some remained in their seats until other group members came to get them. Let's reflect on this and come up with a list of solutions together. We can then set up another time to observe the changes.

The third piece of feedback that we'll convert is, in your lesson today, I only observed the same five students raising their hands and being called on. We can convert this by changing the wording to, student engagement and participation is something that is included as a component in your teacher evaluation. In your lessons today, I took a tally of students that were raising hands and answering questions during your group discussion. I observed the same five students raising hands and being called on throughout the lesson. What are some ways that you can ensure all students are participating? Do you feel all of your students are understanding the material enough to participate? For the next observation, I would like to see you implement a system for students to be called on that includes those that are not raising their hands.

These are all examples of how you can convert non-actionable feedback to actionable feedback.

Let's talk about what we learned today. We looked at the following questions. What is actionable feedback, and what are the best practices in providing actionable feedback? We talked about actionable feedback in this lesson, and how it should be targeted toward specific areas of need, prioritized for improvement, and presented orally and in written form. We also looked at some examples of non-actionable feedback, and converted those to actionable feedback.

Now you're more familiar with these concepts, let's reflect. Consider a time you have been observed. Was the feedback that you received actionable? If not, which components of actionable feedback were missing?

Thanks for joining me today in discussing the lesson Best Practices in Providing Feedback. I hope you found value in this video lesson, and are able to apply these ideas and resources to your own teaching. To dive a little deeper and learn how to play this information, be sure to check out the additional resources section associated with this video. This is where you'll find links targeted toward helping you discover more ways to apply this course material.

Notes on “Best Practices in Providing Feedback”


(00:00- 00:25) Introduction/Objectives

(00:26- 01:55) What is Actionable Feedback?   

(01:56- 03:50) Best Practices  

(03:51- 05:11) Components of Actionable Feedback

(05:12- 07:52) Non-Actionable vs. Actionable Feedback

(07:53- 08:18) Recap

(08:19- 08:56) Reflection 

Additional Resources

Providing Actionable Feedback

This is a ACSD article overviews the steps involved in providing actionable feedback to teachers as part of an observation process.

Seven Keys to Effective Feedback

In this article, Grant Wiggins discusses the type of feedback that teachers need in order to institute change and improve student learning.

Accountable Talk Toolkit

This toolkit includes resources for using accountable talk, such as classroom examples, lesson examples, and implementation support.

Accountable Talk® Sourcebook: For Classroom Conversation That Works

This guidebook provides the comprehensive accountable talk approach and the research supporting the process.