I’ve been anxious to get back to the readers of the Media-X Blog. I have been a little busy working on my dissertation, but am excited to be able to share with you what I have learned from my research.
Literature in the area of classroom observations and teacher feedback has revealed some interesting data. The largest determining factor in student success is having an effective teacher in the classroom (Liu, 2010; Oliva, Mathers, & Laine, 2009; Routman, 2012; & Southworth, 2010). An effective method of identifying good teachers is for educational leaders to visit classrooms and observe what happens as teachers teach and students learn (McGill, 2011). However, visiting classrooms to simply watch what teachers do is not completely effective (Marshall, 2005). To optimize the classroom visit, leaders are encouraged to observe and offer effective feedback to teachers (Tuytens & Devos, 2011).
Several years ago I began an effort to get into classrooms so I could learn what was happening in our school. Observing teachers teach and students learn inspired me to look further into how classroom observations and providing feedback to teachers may impact our school and our students. What I have learned has transformed how we do business and how we address the process of improving our practice.
In the simplest of explanations, I wanted to learn more about how teachers responded to the feedback that was provided to teachers after classroom observations. Hopefully, the more I understand about how teachers respond to the feedback provided to them after classroom observations the more effective I will be in providing feedback that inspires teachers to improve their teaching.
My goal is to communicate to you through a series of articles findings that reveal what participants in my study reported regarding their responses to principal feedback after classroom observations. This being the first article in the series, my goal here is to give you a little glimpse at the study and the overarching themes associated with the findings. As I am sure you have already inferred, my study is qualitative in nature as I wish to understand the how and why of teachers’ responses.
eWalk observation on the iPad The study involved 16 participants from one high school. Four participants were selected from each of the four major academic disciplines: Math, Science, Social Studies, and English. The two most experienced and the two least experienced from each discipline were asked to participate. Each participant was observed on three separate occasions and provided feedback. Participants were also interviewed and asked to keep a journal regarding their responses to principal feedback.
Teacher responses to principal feedback and the intricacies associated with teachers’ responses were examined to investigate how teachers responded when principal feedback was provided after classroom observations. Findings suggested that teachers preferred written feedback over verbal feedback in most instances. Teachers also preferred to respond back to the principal in writing unless they believed the feedback was of a serious nature which then often resulted in teachers preferring a face-to-face conversation. Teachers often responded back to the principal with written explanations regarding the circumstances associated with the feedback. Teachers also changed behaviors as a result of principal feedback when they believed a change in behavior was suggested or expected by the principal. Teachers considered changes in behavior and would make decisions either to change behaviors or not change behaviors when feedback was provided
in a manner that communicated to the teacher that they had a choice. Teachers also preferred to review principal feedback and reflect on their practice when considering their responses.
Article two of the series will address specific information regarding teachers’ preferences for receiving principal feedback in writing and for responding back to the principal with written communication. A participant of the study stated that “written feedback is preferred because I can read through it and make a change if I need to”. Another participant stated that “some type of written summary is the way I like to receive feedback”. These examples of participants’ comments are indicative of the opinions of most participants in the study. Please be on the lookout for article two. It should drop in a week or so. If
you need a reason to get out from behind your desk and visit classrooms to see the great things your teachers and students are doing then this series of articles should be of great interest. Educators always refer to “Research Based” activities when justifying initiatives so this series will provide you with actual research data that allows you to get out and visit teachers and
students. Believe it or not they really like to see you in their classroom. If you find this information useful or if I can assist you with other educational endeavors please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Be on the LOOKOUT for Article 2: Teachers Prefer Written Feedback