Let’s be frank: there is more resistance to a lack of feedback and debriefing of teaching than there is to receiving feedback. So many coaches I work with fear that, if they give specific feedback to a teacher on what to alter, the teacher will feel evaluated.
What I see is actually the opposite: when a coach fails to give feedback, the teacher fantasizes that the coach is going to the principal and spilling all of her guts about the horrid teaching that she saw in the room and that, jointly, they’re writing up the resignation letter that they’ll force the teacher to sign later!
We have to establish very directly with teacher this idea before we debrief and give feedback on the teaching: Formal evaluation is when someone comes into your room, uses an official form, takes notes and turns those notes into someone in a leadership position that has the power to hire and fire. And, as your coach, I’m not going to do that. I might take notes, but they will be informal. I might talk with our principal about whether I’m coaching you or not, but I will not talk specifically about what. I might provide you specific recommendations about how to improve the effects of your teaching, but it is ultimately your choice as to whether you incorporate them into your teaching.
Even with a great coaching set-up, though, providing feedback takes guts. It takes guts to give someone corrective feedback. Just the term “corrective feedback” can make coaches nervous!
But I’m going to let you in on a little secret: providing feedback does not have to be scary because you are going to show your teachers a formula that you’ll use as you debrief them. There will be no mystery and no switcheroo or hidden agenda.
There is an order to a debrief or feedback session that the teachers will grow to expect – and that will take some of the nervousness away for both the coach and teacher.
Here is the flow of the debriefing:
1. Restate the purpose for the coaching interaction
2. Ask the teacher to reflect on the teaching
3. Using your notes, describe in detail what you saw during the lesson
4. Provide specific “Yay!” feedback
5. Provide specific “Here’s what I’d like you to work on” feedback
6. Ask the teacher to reflect on your feedback
7. Choose a next step action and time commitment together