This year I did what many teachers fear the most, I went over to the dark side of school administration in the form of being an Instructional Coach. As I transitioned into this role, I thought surely that this would give me more time to reflect and “cool my heels” -things that I rarely was able to do as a teacher. Working with new and older teachers was not anything new, I had always unofficially “coached” teachers on effective classroom practices, but what would be new was the idea of not having a classroom to dictate my time on a daily basis.
As I readied for my first day in this role, I knew the type of Coach I wanted to be- one who went above and beyond in supporting teachers in all aspects of teaching especially being able to give immediate feedback. As a classroom teacher I can remember people coming into my room with clipboards and walking around examining not only what I was doing in class, but inspecting my Word Wall, Quality Student work and the other things on the standards-based classroom list. They would only stay for a while, but I was always confused because rarely did I receive feedback. When I happened to receive feedback it was so general that it was of no use to me and my teaching practices. According to Teaching in Focus, the appraisal and feedback that a teacher receives is just one of the many factors that can influence his or her feelings of self-efficacy. However the content of the appraisal is equally important when provided feedback on certain aspects of their teaching, teachers can directly target portions of their teaching where they are less confident.
Consequently, giving teachers timely feedback is crucial for both veteran and newer teachers in further honing their educational practices.
So as a Coach, how can you give effective feedback when your time is pulled in literally twenty directions? Follow these simple tips to guide your practice of giving teachers quality feedback:
1. Visit classrooms for varying amounts of time each visit. Visiting a classroom is an integral part of being a good Instructional Coach, but what about the time that you visit in each classroom? At the minimum, when I visit classrooms I stay for at least thirty minutes in a ninety-minute block. This gives me time to see the direction of a teachers lesson and have time to interact with students and their learning. If I come in for anything less than thirty minutes then I’m looking for specific things such as a lesson opening and/or closing, grouping or use of guided practice. In addition, I always make sure to visit teachers frequently so that I have a clear picture of what my teachers are doing in the classroom. In addition to visiting classrooms often, I try and go at different times during the day to make sure I’m getting a clear picture of the class loads teachers have during the day. While it’s important to visit multiple classrooms throughout the day, it is equally important to give timely feedback to teachers. As a rule of thumb, I give feedback within 24 hours of me visiting the class.
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