Providing Feedback to Staff

Andrew Robbin
Andrew Robbin
Primary School Principal; 6th year certificate of Advanced Studies in Administration

Getting staff to continually grow and develop as teachers is vital to a school’s success. As students, content and curricula change, so must the methodology that teachers employ to help each child reach their potential. The essential driver that principals should use for growth is to provide feedback to support strong instruction and grow as professionals.

The Purpose of Feedback

The purpose of feedback is to support teachers growing as educators. To be effective, principals need to be in the classrooms watching instruction, stay up to date on best practices, and understand educational trends, both historical and current. Feedback needs to be given based on evidence, either through observations or data, and delivered in a manner that will have a lasting impact. Meaningful feedback reinforces positive learning methods already in practice and expands the teachers’ ability to have an even greater impact on students. In addition, it’s important to remember that there should be five positive comments to every negative one.

Importance of Timely Feedback

For effective feedback to impact teachers, the results need to be delivered in a timely manner with actionable results. Things move so quickly throughout the day and teachers have a lot of different priorities to juggle. The closer the evaluator can give feedback to the observation, the better the outcome. Teachers will have a better recall of the lesson and thus be more accessible for input from others. They will see the benefit of applying the feedback for an immediate improvement that will help their students. While timeliness is important, delivering quick feedback shouldn’t overshadow making sure the advice is given in a thoughtful, supportive manner.

How to Give Effective Feedback

Having the teacher receptive to feedback is only effective if the feedback is something the teacher can use. To make the most instructional gain, the feedback should be an actionable item that the teacher can use to improve. It needs to be specific, supported with evidence from student work, and give the teacher direction on how to improve their craft. Since teachers want to improve their instruction, having meaningful, relevant instructional strategies suggested will help the teacher and their students immediately. Whether it is a questioning technique, a classroom management support, a graphic organizer, or a rubric clearly outlining expectations, teachers are looking for advice from their evaluator. With the right amount of guidance and coaching, the teacher can modify their practice resulting in immediate gains for the instructor and their students.

While there may be a variety of areas that need growth, effective feedback should be within the realm of the teacher’s possible progress. Conversations with teachers should look different as some teachers will be able to self-reflect and recognize how they would change their approaches, but others may need explicit strategies for their growth. The growth strategies should also be in “bite size” pieces so teachers feel they are attainable. By providing effective, timely feedback that is relevant to teachers, the evaluator and teacher can grow a trusting relationship which will help improve upon their professional practice yielding better results for students.

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