Providing Feedback Respectfully and With Specificity

Teachers ranked as “highly critical” the methods employed by coaches in providing feedback on teaching behaviors discerned during an observation-both effective and ineffective. Consistently, teachers in focus groups and on survey responses identified a need for pre- and post-observation conferences conferences in which specific teaching behaviors are identified, the rationale for their significance discussed and broad generalizations wholly avoided. Particularly for post-observation meetings, teacher expressly and without hesitation consistently stressed the need for specificity, both in behaviors observed and in recommendations (if any) for change. A substantial number expressed dissatisfaction with feedback that they invariably described in terms such as “fuzz,” “unclear,” “vague,” “ambiguous” and “equivocal.”

Teachers indicated a need for pre- and post0visitation conferences that embedded constructive and useful feedback. While anecdotal evidence and informal conversations were reported as generally welcomed, teachers express that they wanted specific examples of area(s) in need of improvement or worthy of commendation. We cannot stress enough that specific, targeted and timely feedback is crucial to ensure validity of their coaching process. Fifty five percent (55%) of responding teachers rated specific feedback as critical to their teaching craft.

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