Written feedback allows teachers to internalize the information provided after a classroom observation and formulate opinions regarding how they wish to respond. Teachers also prefer to respond back to the principal using written communication. Teachers also reported they wish to explain the practices that were observed during a classroom visit or the status of the learning environment that generated principal feedback after a classroom observation. Findings of this study also suggest that teachers will change behaviors as a result of principal feedback after classroom observations.
Participants were observed on three different occasions to examine how they would respond to principal feedback after classroom observations. Teachers were observed initially to offer feedback regarding their teaching practices and/or the learning environment that existed during the classroom observation. Teachers were observed a second time to examine possible responses to feedback from the first observation. Teachers were also provided additional feedback during the second observation. Observation number three was conducted to examine any possible teacher responses to feedback provided during observation number two. Teacher responses to feedback provided during both observation number one and observation number two were examined for purposes of the study.
Analysis of teacher responses to principal feedback after classroom observations suggests that teachers will change behaviors when they perceive principal feedback suggests that a change in behavior is appropriate. Participants consistently responded with changes in behaviors as a result of principal feedback from the previous observation. Changes in behavior by participants as a result of principal feedback were in some instances very simple and in others quite complex. Some changes in behavior involved simply posting information on the board for students. Other changes in behavior were as complex as changing an entire teaching strategy. Regardless of the complexity of the change in behavior, teachers consistently demonstrated that principal feedback after an observation was enough motivation for them to change a behavior.
A Math teacher was provided feedback after the initial observation regarding a student not being recognized when raising their hand for a question. The student continued to raise their hand for several minutes without being acknowledged. The student also made a comment referencing not being recognized by the teacher. Principal feedback provided to the Math teacher after this observation inquired about strategies to monitor the progress of students and to address students’ questions in a timely manner. During the subsequent observation, it was observed that the Math teacher had obviously reflected on the feedback regarding the progress monitoring of students. During observation number two, the teacher demonstrated an obvious change in behavior and monitoring strategies as no student experienced a delay in being acknowledged for a question. The Math teacher obviously addressed the situation of progress monitoring as mentioned in principal feedback after the previous observation.
An English teacher was observed sitting behind the desk for an extended period of time as students became less engaged in the lesson and more engaged in the social opportunities afforded to them by their classmates. Principal feedback provided to the English teacher after the observation referenced the amount of time spent sitting behind the desk and inquired as to the strategies associated with providing assistance to students during the lesson and how off task behavior was monitored and addressed. During the next two observations it was evident that the English teacher had taken the comments from the principal seriously and addressed the issue of spending considerable amounts of time sitting behind the desk. The English teacher moved work materials to the podium located closer to the students and spent more time moving about students assisting with the learning and redirecting off-task behaviors. The instructional environment was more conducive to learning as compared to the initial observation. A simple move out from behind the desk and increased monitoring time among the students had a significant impact on the learning environment.
Teachers will change their behaviors when they believe principal feedback encourages or suggests a change is appropriate. The task for school leaders is to realize that teachers are internalizing the feedback provided to them after classroom observations and making decisions how to respond. Findings from this study have implications for school leaders regarding feedback provided to teachers after class observations. Leaders would be well served to consider how feedback provided to teachers is formulated and the message that teachers will receive when they read and analyze feedback provided to them after class observations. Findings suggest leaders take special consideration when formulating feedback provided to teachers to ensure the message that is intended for teachers is the message that teachers receive when they read and analyze feedback.
Article four of the series “Teacher Responses to Principal Feedback” will address findings that suggest teachers wish to explain their practices and the learning environment observed during classroom visits. Teachers respond to principal feedback after classroom observations with written explanations detailing why they were acting in a specific manner during a classroom observation. Teachers also demonstrated their desire to explain the condition of the learning environment during the observation. Some may interpret this as making excuses. Others may interpret this response as providing details to an existing situation. I discovered that both may be true depending on the observation.
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Be on the LOOKOUT for Article 4: Teachers Respond to Principal Feedback with written explanations of the teaching and learning experience.