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Observing and Providing Feedback to Teachers

Observing and Providing Feedback to Teachers

Author: Trisha Fyfe

In this lesson, you will learn about best practices involved in observing teachers and providing feedback to them as a coach.

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Welcome. I'm Trisha Fyfe, and in today's lesson I will cover the topic of observing and providing feedback to teachers. In this video lesson we will work toward several learning objectives and we'll use the following two questions to guide our learning, what are best practices involved in observing teachers? And what are best practices involved in providing feedback?

Today we'll start by discussing some tips that will be helpful in making observations affective and efficient as coaches. These ideas are considered best practices for coaching.

First and foremost, as coaches we need to make sure that we are thoroughly prepared for observations that take place. Not only should we communicate with the teacher before the observation so that we can gain insight on that teacher's goals and specific methods of teaching and assessing, but we should ensure that we have copies of the lesson plan that will be used so that we can look over it and brainstorm any questions that we might have. It's also helpful to ask a teacher what the focus of the observation should be.

Reflecting on observations that we have completed on the same teacher in the past is also a helpful part of this process. For several reasons it's essential to be timely and ready with materials needed. Depending on the focus of the observation we might need time to communicate with the teacher beforehand. And it's always good practice to be ready to take anecdotal notes and complete forms and other available written tools that have been prepared.

While you might consider questions and wonderings during an observation, it's extremely important to refrain from interrupting the lesson. Wait to ask your questions until post observation so that you are not destructive to that environment. When we interrupt the lesson and bring focus of the students and teacher to the observation itself will lose both flow of the lesson and valuable information about how the normal activities would have gone.

When you've completed the observation it's essential to reflect. We can use questions like, what type of feedback will you give? Or which delivery method will you use to give feedback? Consider your options for feedback.

We have informal verbal feedback, a way of communicating brief feedback that's not planned necessarily. Informal written feedback, which is similar to informal verbal, but in written form instead. Formal verbal feedback, a type of feedback that's generally used after the observation conference and much more thought out and extensive. And formal written feedback which includes creating a formal document that details things that teacher did well and those things the teacher needs to improve on.

The last best practice that we'll discuss today is the need to hold a post-observation conference. This is where you'll help the teacher reflect. And where the teacher can set new instructional goals with you as the coach.

Let's take a moment to discuss those different types of feedback that we just talked about. You might encounter these as coaches and teachers. For the purpose of this lesson we'll focus on these four types of feedback, informal written, informal verbal, formal written, and formal verbal feedback. Let's look at these more in detail.

Let's start with informal feedback. This type of feedback includes feedback that is given to teachers outside of the classroom, such as just walking down the hall between activities for their class, or potentially it could be given before or after lessons, or when coaches do walkthroughs through their classrooms. A simple complement, or, "Good job. When I saw you walking your class down the hall today I noticed that some of your students were helping others in their class stay on task. It's obvious that you've been working with them on these procedures." is all it takes.

When a coach chooses to write a quick note with the same people it's considered informal written feedback. Coaches can give formal verbal feedback after the observation takes place. This feedback is based on the observation and the goals of the coach and teachers for improvement. It is specific feedback, and it's substantial. Before this conversation the coach needs time to process the observation and thoughts. Often times this type of conference might include the coach offering suggestions or discussing questions that might have come up on the coaches end.

When feedback is given to the teacher in written document form regarding the observation it's considered formal written feedback. Not only does formal written feedback include written feedback and thoughts from the observation, but it should also include information about the conference itself that took place after the observation. Because this type of feedback includes written documentation of the goals discussed it's an extremely valuable type of feedback.

Let's talk about what we learned today. We looked at the following questions, what are best practices involved in observing teachers? And what are best practices involved in providing feedback?

In today's lesson we talked about four different types of feedback that instructional coaches use with teachers, informal written feedback, informal verbal feedback, formal written feedback, and formal verbal feedback. We also discussed some best practices for coaching, these include being prepared and punctual, reflecting on prior observations, and refraining from asking questions during the observation itself so that you do not interrupt the flow of the lesson.

Now that you're more familiar with these concepts and best practices let's reflect. Have you been a part of the process of observations and opportunities for feedback? Which of the four types of feedback do you see being used most frequently in your school? Why?

Thanks for joining me today in discussing the lesson, "Observing and Providing Feedback to Teachers." I hope you found value in this video lesson and are able to apply these ideas, and concepts, and best practices to your own teaching and coaching.

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 “Observing and Providing Feedback to Teachers”


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

(00:23- 02:55) Best Practices for Observation

(02:56- 04:47) Types of Feedback/Providing Feedback

(04:48- 05:34) Recap

(05:35- 06:16) Reflection

Additional Resources

Teacher Talent Toolbox: Observation and Feedback

This toolbox includes useful tools, guidance, and templates for observing teachers and providing feedback. The organization of the site makes the resources easy to find and use.

Types of Feedback and Their Purposes

This chapter provides a clear overview of the the types of feedback, their purposes, and when to use them.