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Feedback Tips

Feedback Tips

Author: Trisha Fyfe

In this lesson, you will learn the difference between descriptive and evaluative feedback. You will also learn some tips for providing effective feedback to teachers.

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Instructional Coaching

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Welcome, I'm Trisha Fyfe. And in today's video lesson, we'll be looking at the topic of feedback tips. As we learn about this topic, we will work towards several learning objectives. And together we'll answer the following questions in this video lesson.

What is the role of feedback? What is the difference between descriptive feedback and evaluative feedback? And how can you give effective feedback?

So why do teachers need feedback? Providing feedback is a vital role of instructional coaches. And it can be a challenging one. There are many positive outcomes that stem from teachers receiving feedback. But essentially, as teachers, we need feedback so that we can better ourselves and set, as well as reach, professional development goals.

Some of these goals might fall under the categories of student engagement and achievement, instructional strategies and assessment practices. Even though it can be hard to know how to feel when we receive feedback based on what and how others see us doing, especially in our profession, it is essential for our growth. Others, especially those trained and skilled as coaches, can help us find those missing pieces that we are not seeing.

There are two main types of feedback that we'll receive as teachers, descriptive and evaluative. Much like formative and summative assessment, these two types of feedback are both essential but very different. There are specific reasons for each of these, descriptive and evaluative. Let's compare the two.

Descriptive feedback is just that, a description of what was seen during an observation. Specifically, what relates to the determined goals of the teacher as far as improvement? Because the job of coach is only to describe the observations and interactions that were witnessed, it is objective in nature. The teacher can use these accurate and honest observations to make improvements.

The coach will very well observe things that the teacher may not be noticing because they're focused on other elements. This type of feedback is used for learning. Some examples of descriptive feedback are, I noticed you successfully implemented the note-taking strategy you were trained on last week in this lesson. Your students seem to pick up on this strategy quickly without many questions.

Or maybe, I see you've begun to integrate the virtual manipulative software in your math stations. It seems the students are enjoying it. Or maybe, for a teacher that's working on getting more interaction from all students in the class, a coach could note, I notice that while you were covering the lesson on area and perimeter, you used name sticks to call on students throughout the large group time. Did this seem to work well for you?

On the other hand, evaluative feedback is used to answer the question, how is the teacher progressing toward goals that were set for development and instruction? When preparing to use evaluative feedback, it's helpful for the coach to review prior data from past observations, as well as any teacher evaluation systems from that particular school district. This information will give the coach a good picture of where the teacher was last and then, when observing, where the teacher is currently, so that they can move forward and evaluate progress in full. This type of feedback is summative in nature and considered feedback of learning.

Some examples of evaluative feedback might be, we've been working on integrating flipped learning into your classroom for a few months now. Last time I met, you successfully used two flipped learning lessons. During my observation this time, I notice you've been successfully creating your own videos for homework, and now you've begun to use one flip lesson per week. Student motivation levels are much higher now, according to student surveys.

Or since you began using the reading workshop model that we were trained on a month ago in your reading classes, your student test scores have improved. Nice work. Or maybe, last observation, you were having a hard time managing behavior after recess time. You might consider implementing a classroom meeting into your routine. Students might report that they have a more sense of community after this takes place. Why don't you give it a try?

Another important question to ask is, how can I give feedback effectively? In the book, The Art of coaching, some strategies are shared. It stated that we must find the level of trust in the relationship between coach and teacher. Only after this trust is established, should we begin to share feedback, especially feedback evaluative in nature.

When we jump into feedback, especially if that feedback is negative, the receiver of this feedback might feel defensive and frustrated, maybe even a bit helpless or defeated. These feelings can push teachers away from wanting that feedback and opportunities to gain insight and grow with coaching, which is so valuable. Another consideration to make is to seek permission for actually giving the feedback. Sometimes, the issue at hand might be one that's too sensitive at the time, or trust has not yet been established, and the feedback will not be welcomed.

It's best to make sure that you state why you have feedback to give. What are your intentions? What is the purpose? When you let the teacher know that you have good intentions for offering feedback, it'll most likely be appreciated.

For example, I would really like to help you integrate technology into your station time for math. I have some feedback on this concern that you brought to my attention last week during your observation. Would it be OK if I shared this feedback with you now?

We also need to make sure that feedback is based on observations and what has been observed. What occurred during your observations, describe this in your feedback. I noticed that you used multiple choice tests to assess learning after your science lesson today. What was your purpose for using only this type of assessment? Can you think of additional assessment methods to add next time?

When it is necessary to give feedback that's negative, try to be very careful about how many negative items you give the teacher at one time. More than one or two negative pieces of feedback can feel very overwhelming. Even when, as a coach, you might realize that there are multiple things that need to be addressed regarding areas like environment of the classroom, instruction itself, management, and so on. Consider all of these areas that need improvement and perhaps refine the feedback to only one or two areas that most closely match the goals for the teacher as far as development or instruction.

Start here and work the rest of the ideas in as you can in your coaching partnership. It's also important to consider the wording that you use upon giving feedback. A more direct, honest approach works for some teachers. Remember, you must state the learning goals for each lesson with your students, perhaps.

Other teachers might need a more gentle approach like, when we met last for a faculty meeting, I remember we discussed the importance of posting and stating learning goals for our lesson. Is there anything that might be helpful for you as far as implementing this into your lessons? As the coach and teacher begin to build a relationship, this is something that is essential for the coach to learn about the teacher. What are the teacher's preferences as far as feedback given? Feedback should be tailored for every single teacher.

The last idea that we'll discuss here is the importance of encouraging reflection. Coaches need to ask the teacher to reflect on what was said in the information that was given after the feedback has been provided. During this reflection, the coach should listen.

What is the teacher telling me about the feedback? How is that teacher responding? Was the feedback taken well? Are they defensive, apprehensive, relieved, thankful? Are there any questions?

Yet another role of the instructional coach is to support the teacher emotionally, when the teacher is processing the reflection and the information. This is really important. Everyone responds differently to being observed, especially if weaknesses are brought up.

So let's talk about what we learned today. We looked at the following questions. What is the role of feedback? What is the difference between descriptive and evaluative feedback? And how can you give feedback effectively?

In this lesson, we discussed the fact that feedback is essential for teachers in moving toward professional development goals. We looked at descriptive and evaluative feedback. I also walked you through some suggestions for how to give feedback effectively.

We can do things like, look at the level of trust in the teacher/coach relationship. Ask permission and state intentions and provide specific examples of feedback. We can also limit negative feedback and consider how we are wording feedback, if it is negative, as well as encourage the teacher to process feedback and reflect.

Now that you're more familiar with these concepts, let's reflect for a moment. Consider feedback that you have been given in the past. Did the coach or individual use any of the six suggestions for feedback that we discussed here? How did you respond to the feedback given? What was the outcome?

Thanks for joining me today in discussing the lesson Feedback Tips. I hope you found value in this video lesson and are able to apply these ideas and resources to your own teaching and coaching. For more information on how to apply what you've learned in this video, please see the additional resources section that accompanies the video presentation. The additional resources section includes hyperlinks useful for applications of the course material, including a brief description of each resource.

Notes on “Feedback Tips”


(00:00- 00:26) Introduction/Objectives

(00:27- 01:15) Why Do Teachers Need Feedback?

(01:16- 04:17) Descriptive and Evaluative Feedback

(04:18- 08:10) Suggestions for Giving Feedback

(08:11- 08:57) Recap

(08:58- 09:47) Reflection 

Additional Resources

Seven Keys to Effective Feedback

This ASCD article gives practical advice for instructional coaches and leaders in giving feedback for instructional improvement.

Providing Effective Feedback to Teachers: A Critical Task of Instructional Leaders

This resource provides a clear and concise overview of the important role of leaders in providing feedback to teachers to improve practice.