By Ellen Eisenberg

By Ellen Eisenberg, Executive Director of The Professional Institute for Instructional Coaching (TPIIC)

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

The approaching end-of-school year is always fraught with anxiety for the entire school community. Students worry about promotion and graduation; administrators worry about school profiles; teachers worry about whether their students “know” enough to score well on standardized tests; and coaches worry about whether they made a difference in teaching and learning by working with their teaching colleagues.

These things worry all of us but we need to put things into perspective. When we only worry about the evaluation part (how has one measured against others) and not worry about practice (how can I talk to my colleagues to make changes where needed), feedback takes a nosedive. And, frankly, without feedback and ongoing conversations about practice and student learning, no evaluation will be meaningful… required, yes; helpful, no.

We talk a great deal about giving formative assessments to students. After all, we want to help them grow so we don’t want the assessment to be the autopsy… after the work is completed; we want to give support in ways that will make a difference as the students are doing the work.

The same is true with teachers.

As coaches, we don’t want to give advice and claim that’s feedback. We want and need to work with teachers to discuss their goals and how they want to accomplish them. We want to engage in a long term relationship that results in ongoing conversations about teaching and learning, not about “how I did today.” We want to engage in conversation and talk about practice in specific, descriptive, timely, and non-judgmental ways. Remember, grades for performance are not feedback. Helping teachers identify areas of strength and how to make changes where needed is feedback.

In what ways do you solicit feedback about your own practice? How do you offer feedback to others?

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