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A year of giving (and receiving) feedback?

In our professional lives more and more is now being said about the value of feedback and the role that keenly observed feedback, explored in respectful ways, can play in the never ending quest to get better at what we do.

In our professional lives more and more is now being said about the value of feedback and the role that keenly observed feedback, explored in respectful ways, can play in the never ending quest to get better at what we do.

An article in the Washington Post referred to a recent study1 about instructional leadership and the role that school leaders play in helping teachers grow and develop. This study seemed to show that the broader activities associated with instructional leadership – classroom walkthroughs and higher levels of visibility among other things are not particularly helpful. What did seem to help was specific and intentional observation and specific conversations about practice. The article concluded: "… feedback is essential. Instructional leadership activities that offer meaningful feedback to teachers may help. Those that don’t, will not."

Bill Gates has even jumped into this discussion and his TED talk, Teachers Need Real Feedback is worth a look if you have not viewed it yet.

Others have taken this further and argued that feedback alone is not enough. Feedback has to go somewhere.

“Feedback is most effective in motivating improved performance when it is used to set goals. Feedback alone is just information.” 2

And this is where good coaching comes in. Skilful coaching provides the link between feedback data and improved performance; skilful coaching helps build ownership of the emerging data; skilful coaching helps turn greater awareness about how things are going into clear goals and next steps.

  • What would the year be like if you embraced the giving of feedback along with the skilful coaching that can help that feedback move others forward?
  • What would the year ahead be like if you invited feedback about some aspect of your current role and used it to set goals?

I suspect if the giving and receiving of feedback became a focus area for your school this year – if appropriate feedback and coaching strategies were implemented in helpful ways - then significant benefits would flow for leaders, teachers, parents … and of course students.

Learning to do this well could be the one thing that would make the most difference this year.



References:

  • 1 Grissom, J. A., Loeb, S., & Master, B. (2013). Effective instructional time use for school leaders: Longitudinal evidence from observations of principals. Educational Researcher, 42, 433-444.
  • 2 Locke, E.A. (1996). Motivation through conscious goal setting. Journal of Applied and Preventive Psychology, 5, 117-124.

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