Effective Feedback for Teachers: 9 Key Ingredients
So What Is Effective Feedback for Teachers?
According to a SmartBrief poll, nearly 70% of teachers said that traditional observation processes do not give them the meaningful and actionable feedback they need to grow.
The Review of Educational Research, Hattie and Timperley states that:
“feedback must answer three major questions:
• Where am I going? – what are the goals?
• How am I going? – what progress is being made toward the goal?
• Where to next? – what activities need to be undertaken to make better progress?”
With this in mind, below we have outlined 9 key components of effective feedback for teachers to consider next time you observe a colleague.
Be constructive, provide evidence and examples. Generalisations provide little value or direction for your colleague to focus on for improvement. Have a plan of what you’ll say to remain specific and equally as important, to the point.
Avoid waiting to provide feedback, whether it’s positive or negative, to have the best impact on performance act sooner rather than later.
Some basic reminders here include: don’t hesitate or exaggerate, and do make eye contact. Be sensitive too, honesty is most effective when received in a timely manner – not when it comes across rushed, harsh and without feeling. Recognise that different people react to different approaches, this is key as it ensures your feedback style is adapted to the individual or circumstance.
Keep on track with the topic or subject area you’re feeding back on. Move onto the next area once each point is made and understood. Keep your session concise, and if possible, refer to objectives, standards, expectations, SIP/SDP and/or individual/departmental action plans. Create a feedback meeting pro forma that is consistently used throughout the organisation. This scripted approach has been shown to reduce stress as each party knows what to expect.
5. Actions & Follow-up
More often than not, there will be tasks to do following any effective feedback session. If there ARE actions to be taken post feedback, ensure that both staff member and line manager are clear about the next steps/expectations. When giving direction or instruction, it’s important you follow up to check feedback has been taken on board – this ensures everyone is clear. Follow up a verbal agreement for action with a quick summary email. It’s often useful to be specific here – provide target dates and who is responsible for what. That way, people are accountable for their own actions.
Monitor progress and review if necessary. How does their performance impact individuals, groups and whole school? This is important to establish as no single member of staff acts in a bubble. Look to establish how more positive outcomes be achieved.
Feedback isn’t always about highlighting areas for improvement or development, feedback is about the great things too. Praise and ‘thank yous’ are often forgotten, yet they are so simple and easy to give.
8. Includes Evidence
Where possible refer to specific examples and give evidence. This is unequivocally needed when discussing areas of improvement. hen giving positive feedback it demonstrates authenticity and heightens the value of the feedback. Sometimes, and especially when giving informal feedback in passing, it may not be appropriate or needed at all.
There’s no question, the most effective feedback is a two-way process. Staff must first understand the feedback you give. It allows them the opportunity to a) reflect on their performance and b) offer solutions or courses of action if such an outcome is required. Again, agreed action be taken as a point of accountability, is key component to be effective.
In this article we have outlined some of the key components of ensuring we carry out effective observations for our colleagues. If you would like to save these for later or complete some further reading, please download our ‘Giving Effective Feedback: Review guide’.