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Coaching for Change: Giving Feedback

What are the keys to giving effective feedback?

EL Education acknowledges the importance of conversations about teaching and learning as a critical component of the coaching cycle. We believe that the purpose for delivering feedback should always be to positively influence student learning. This type of effective descriptive feedback has the following key characteristics:

-Labels the positive by relating to impact on student learning

-Is non-judgmental

-Identifies success toward the teacher's goal and instructional practices that supported this success

-Honors coaching principles (see: Effective Coaching page) and the teacher as an adult learner

-Focuses on student achievement and evidence rather than on instructional strategies alone

-Includes "Keepers": instructional moves (three or four) that support students' learning and achievement to both honor the teacher and ensure transference

-Includes "Polishers": a limited number of next steps (one or two) that will have the greatest impact on student achievement

-Results in a plan in which the teacher identifies his or her own next steps including what (s)he needs to work on and what will push this practice

All teachers, including superstars, are hungry for feedback. They spend most of their working days with students and are intensely curious about what other adults think—especially the boss. Kim Marshall, principal coach

Learning Target

I can explain the key characteristics of effective descriptive feedback.

Watch: Six Steps to Effective Feedback

While viewing, watch for the six steps of effective feedback, according to Paul Bambrick-Santoyo in his book Leverage Leadership:

  1. Praise
  2. Probe
  3. Identify the Problem & Create an Action Step
  4. Practice
  5. Plan Ahead
  6. Set a Timeline for Follow-up

And consider:

  1. What is the benefit of following a specific set of steps when delivering descriptive feedback?
  2. What did you see in this video that differs from your current practice of giving feedback to teachers?
  3. Communicating the six-step process to teachers before conducting feedback conversations can help ensure the feedback is used. How will you communicate the process? 

Uncommon Schools. (2012, June 22). *Observation & Feedback: Six Steps to Effective Feedback*. Retrieved October 14, 2015 from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EBBlhoFfqwk#t=196.

Watch: Refining Feedback

Please watch the video below of a coach providing feedback to a teacher, and reflect:

  1. Which of Bambrick’s Six Steps to Effective Feedback do you recognize in this video?
  2. If you were giving advice to this coach on how to make her feedback even more effective, what would you recommend?

Davis, Laura. (2012, February 8). *Teaching and feedback clip 2*. Retrieved October 14, 2015 from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NZGApnaAyQk.

Watch: Observation & Feedback

Watch the video below from Uncommon Schools and reflect on the following: 

  1. What steps does the coach take to ensure that this feedback meeting results in a plan in which the teacher identifies her own next steps?
  2. Notice the timeliness with which this meeting results in action steps. What implications does this have for your own meetings with teachers?

Uncommon Schools. (2012, June 23). *Observation & Feedback: Probing to Identify the Problem*. Retrieved October 14, 2015 from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bBeNs1Q2kXk.

Dig Deeper


Criteria for Observation, Data Collection and Feedback: A document created by EL Education to outline the criteria for each component of support for the observation cycle, including descriptive feedback. 
Seven Steps to Effective Feedback*: A post to Connected Principals in which Head of School Shira Leibowitz applies Grant Wiggins’ Seven Keys to Effective Feedback to the role of the instructional leader.
*Educational Leadership® (a/k/a EL®) is a publication of ASCD and in no way affiliated with EL Education 

Bambrick-Santoyo, Paul, and Brett M. Peiser. Leverage Leadership: A Practical Guide to Building Exceptional Schools. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2012.

Bambrick-Santoyo, Paul. Driven by Data: A Practical Guide to Improve Instruction. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2010.


Feedback Conversation Protocol—Coach/Principal Role:  Excerpted from Myung, J. & Martinez, K. (2013 July). Strategies for Enhancing the Impact of Post-Observation Feedback for Teachers. Stanford, CA: Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.
Feedback Conversation Protocol—Teacher Role: Excerpted from Myung, J. & Martinez, K. (2013 July). Strategies for Enhancing the Impact of Post-Observation Feedback for Teachers. Stanford, CA: Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.


For Coaches:

  1. What are your current strengths related to delivering effective, descriptive feedback?
  2. Which of the key components will you strive to improve upon as you deliver feedback?
  3. What do you anticipate will be your greatest challenge in delivering feedback to teachers?
  4. How will you overcome this challenge? 

For School Leaders:

  1. What structures do you have in place so that conversations about teaching and learning can occur regularly between teachers and instructional coaches?
  2. How will you support the instructional coach in delivering feedback that is effective and descriptive?
  3. What will you do to ensure teacher accountability for action steps determined as a result of feedback conversations?
  4. What will you do to support a school culture in which feedback is welcomed, encouraged, and accepted as a means of positively influencing student learning?