Article 5 of the “Teacher Responses to Principal Feedback” series will discuss findings that teachers responded to principal feedback of classroom observations by reflecting on their teaching.

Reflection is a powerful tool for teachers and, when used effectively, can assist them with improving their skills in the classroom.

Reflection of one’s own teaching practices can lead to powerful realizations about personal strengths and growth opportunities. Observers should offer meaningful feedback to teachers that provide opportunities for personal reflection (Routman, 2012). Increased visits to classrooms also builds trust among teachers and the observer which in turn strengthens the quality of the feedback and results in more authentic reflection among teachers (Tripp & Rich, 2012).

From the feedback I have received, teachers who participated in this study often reported that principal feedback influenced them to reflect back on their teaching experiences. They often explained that principal feedback provided to them after a classroom observation would cause them to reflect back on the class and the teaching strategies that were displayed during the observation. They also reported that having someone from outside the classroom come in, observe and provide feedback was very beneficial. These teachers have gone on to explain that feedback from observers would often expose to them a perspective that was in some instances not readily apparent. It was also reported that if an outside observer was noticing things in class that the teacher was not aware of then there was an increased likelihood that some students were not making the connections with the content as
well.

Several participants reported that principal feedback resulted in reflection of their teaching practices. An English teacher stated that principal feedback encouraged them to reflect and consider ways in which to improve teaching strategies. A Social Studies teacher stated that written feedback provided after a classroom visit provided opportunities for them to sit down and think about why specific teaching strategies were used for a lesson and how the lesson could be improved for future classes. Another teacher stated that the feedback provided by the observer was utilized to review teaching strategies and reflect on how things might be improved. That same teacher also stated that the feedback from the observer was more credible and authentic because the observer was someone who had spent many years in the classroom and in the words of the teacher “had been there and done that”.

Research has shown that personal reflection by teachers benefits both teachers and their students (Hattie & Timperly, 2007; Mcgill, 2011; Routman, 2012; Skretta, 2008; Tuytens & Devos, 2011). Findings from this study indicates principal feedback after classroom observations encourages teachers to reflect on their professional practice supports the importance of school leaders observing their teachers and providing meaningful feedback. Teachers want school leaders in their classrooms to observe the great things they do each day to support their students. If they want you in their classrooms, why not take advantage of these opportunities to participate in the teaching and learning that occurs in your building?

The “Teacher Responses to Principal Feedback” series has reported that teachers respond to principal feedback after classroom observations in many ways. Findings from this study have revealed that, in general, teachers:

  1. Prefer feedback be provided to them in writing.
  2. Will change behaviors if principal feedback in some way encourages a change.
  3. Wish to respond to principal feedback by explaining the situation that initiated the feedback from the principal.
  4. Reported that principal feedback after classroom observations encouraged them to reflect on their professional practice.

Teachers want leaders in their classrooms to observe the great things they do with their students. They also appreciate leaders providing feedback to them regarding what was observed during the visit. The more effective leaders are in providing meaningful feedback to teachers the more influence leaders will have to create and sustain positive change in the building. Leaders should take advantage of opportunities to get out of the office and visit classrooms; you will be amazed at what you learn.

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leave a comment or contact me directly at sean.kelly@douglas.k12.ga.us