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Feedback Skills

Feedback Skills

Author: Trisha Fyfe

This lesson explores the skills that are necessary for effective coaching and feedback in a professional growth context.

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Welcome. I'm Trisha Fyfe. And in today's video lesson, we'll cover the lesson titled "Feedback Skills."

As we learn about this topic, we will work towards several main learning objectives. And together, we'll use the following three questions to guide our learning in this video lesson. What is active listening? What is accountable talk? And how can each of these be applied in the context of coaching feedback?

Let's first look at feedback skills. Why are they important? In the instructional coaching relationship, you should expect to both give and receive feedback to some degree.

As instructional coaches are used more and more, feedback is encouraged between teachers as they work together and collaborate. This collaboration is often geared towards improving instructional practices. When all members use feedback skills that are effective, instructional coaching becomes the most effective. This is due to the fact that those involved are much more able to give and receive feedback.

Active listening and accountable talk are just two strategies that can be used when giving and receiving feedback while in the instructional coaching relationship. Building trust is essential-- trust for each other and trust in the relationship. It's also important to improve understanding. These are both best practices of giving feedback, and active listening and accountable talk support both of these best practices.

Let's talk about each of these strategies. We'll start with active listening. Active listening is a very important strategy for the coach and teacher to use.

It's a technique for communication used in many fields-- fields like counseling, training, conflict resolution, medicine, and journalism. The speaker and listener interact. And throughout this interaction, the listener responds using verbal and nonverbal communication.

There are several active listening techniques. First, pay attention-- giving the teacher your undivided attention. Minimize distractions. This is hard to do nowadays. Get out from behind your computers or tablets and phones, stop what you're doing, and focus on what is at hand.

Do not interrupt the speaker. Interruptions are frustrating and often the cause of the speaker missing important pieces of information. Practice this technique. You must give your full attention as well as show both verbal and nonverbal signs of listening. Nodding, smiling, and phrases like "Yes" or "I agree" are essential here.

These are signs of listening and part of the next active listening technique, which is using body language to show you are listening. Give eye contact. This is important for many reasons but especially because it shows you are, in fact, giving your full attention. It's also important to pay attention to gestures, body language, and demeanor of the individual speaking.

The third technique for active listening is to actively give feedback on what you hear. Respond appropriately to what the speaker is saying, both verbally and non-verbally. Paraphrasing is a great technique for showing you're listening. You can paraphrase a conversation or just parts of it to ensure you've understood correctly.

Ask clarifying questions, such as, "So what I'm hearing you say is?" It's essential to be open, honest, and respectful as the listener in conversations. This is a very important part of successful active listening.

When you're asked to give or receive feedback, consider the benefits of active listening. This is an effective and rewarding strategy. It offers confirmation to the speaker and the listener that they're being listened to and their words are valued.

Let's look at some specific aspects of active listening and talk about how they can improve giving and receiving feedback. First, do not interrupt. This helps develop trust and respect in the relationship. Paying attention to gestures, body language, and demeanor of the speaker can help determine if that conversation is going well or if it needs to change directions.

If the teacher, let's say, is beginning to get upset, the coach should be aware of this and change the method of feedback delivery. Asking clarifying questions can help both members of the conversation feel as though their words have been heard, and it can also ensure that that feedback is taken and used and they're headed in the right direction.

Let's talk about another strategy-- accountable talk. Accountable talk is a specific format of conversation where those involved are asked to provide evidence for statements they are making. Lauren Resnick was the first to introduce this concept, and her goal was to raise the level of academic conversations.

Accountable talk involves challenging one another's statement, asking for supportive evidence, elaboration, clarification of the meanings. Accountable talk also aims to deepen the understanding of what is being said. There are three different dimensions of accountable talk.

The first dimension of accountable talk is the accountability to the learning community. How do colleagues communicate with each other? It's important that peers engage in active listening with their colleagues. It's also essential that there are respectful agreements or disagreements. When applied to coaching feedback context, both participants should listen to each other with attention and respect.

The second dimension of accountable talk is accountability to accurate knowledge. What are the colleagues discussing in coaching situations, in professional learning communities, or in critical friends groups? Accountability to accurate knowledge applies here. Teachers must accurately describe what they do. They must be very open and transparent about their teaching practices. This holds them accountable in this dimension.

As teachers, we engage in inquiry often by asking challenging questions of colleagues. We should be concerned about the improvement of everyone's practice. When giving coaching feedback, this means both individuals aim for accuracy and clarity. Questions can be asked to gain details and information and understand the approaches used.

The third dimension is accountability to rigorous thinking. Building a solid justification for instructional coaches is important here. As coaches and teachers, it's essential to use knowledge that you have to do this.

When the teacher answers the question like, "Why did you use this strategy," with sound reasoning, they're being held accountable. When giving and receiving coaching feedback, both participants should attempt to support any suggested instructional changes by developing solid reasoning and evidence and asking each other questions. This helps to process the ideas and thoughts behind an instructional approach.

Let's look at some examples of follow-up questions that would be typical of accountable talk, and we'll talk about each of these can improve the quality and effectiveness of giving and receiving feedback. Here is one. "Can you give me an example of when and how you use differentiation in this activity?" This would be the coach asking the teacher.

"Can you expand on what you meant when you said there was not appropriate wait time?" This might be the teacher to the coach. "In what part or parts of the lesson were my students not actively engaged?" Again, this would be the teacher to the coach.

These questions are all asking the teacher or coach to provide sound reasoning and consider evidence that's specific. This holds each member of this relationship accountable.

Let's talk about what we learned today. We looked at the questions-- what is active listening, what is accountable talk, and how can each of these be applied in the context of coaching feedback? Now that you're more familiar with these concepts, let's reflect. Have you been a part of a relationship where active listening or accountable talk have been used? What were the benefits for you, if so? If not, what do you think the easiest and most challenging parts will be for you?

Thanks for joining me in discussing the lesson Feedback Skills. I hope you found value in this video lesson and are able to apply these ideas and resources to your own teaching. Now, it's your turn to apply what you've learned in this video.

The Additional Resources section will be super helpful. This section is designed to help you discover useful ways to apply what you've learned here. Each link includes a brief description so you can easily target the resources that you want.

Notes on “Feedback Skills”


(00:00- 00:22) Introduction/Objectives

(00:23- 01:20) Feedback Skills

(01:21- 03:25) Active Listening

(03:26- 04:04) Active Listening: Improving Feedback

(04:05- 04:40)  Accountable Talk  

(04:41- 06:22) Accountable Talk: Dimensions

(06:23- 07:07) Accountable Talk: Improving Feedback

(07:08- 07:17) Recap

(07:18- 07:58) Reflection 

Additional Resources

Tips From Dr. Marzano: Coaching Classroom Instruction

These tips are easy to follow and implement for coaches focusing on classroom instruction.

Read About Best Practices in Effective Listening and Questioning Techniques 

This resource provides best practices in effective listening and questioning techniques. In addition, this site includes resources and links to support active listening techniques.