Written feedback after an observation

In other posts on the subject of giving feedback after observing a lesson, I’ve tended to focus only on spoken feedback. But in fact many of us write feedback down as well.  It’s actually quite a skill and takes time to develop so if you are new to giving feedback here are some ideas. And if you aren’t so new to giving feedback, then maybe you’ll find something here you can comment on.

For me, written feedback should provide the trainee with a useful reference point for any future lessons. During oral feedback a trainee can not necessarily take in all the ideas and information that come up, so, as a minimum, the feedback needs to be a summary of the key points. Here are some general guidelines and ideas for written feedback:

Congratulate the teacher

Especially with new teachers, begin your feedback with phrases like…Well done, Great job, Good start.

At the same time, pinpoint the reasons for the success. For example:

It was a nice warmer to get the students interested.

You have a good welcoming manner with the arriving students.

You showed interest by asking the students about their weekend. 

Reflect oral feedback

Don’t include too many new points that didn’t come up during oral feedback as this can cause anxiety or confusion.

Use a visual code

Sometimes written feedback does not make it clear to a trainee what is being implied. For example, a comment might be a compliment, a requirement for the trainee to do something different or even simply a question, a point to consider. Some trainers use a visual code to clarify their meaning. Here are three examples:

! Two students are still talking to each other while you are explaining the next task.

 ? What would have happened if you’d let students compare their answers first?

  :-) Students are quietly working through the questions and you are monitoring. 

The trainer’s visual code allows a simple description of what is happening and encourages the trainee to reflect on this in a certain way. The exclamation mark symbol (!) tells the trainee something needs attention or needs to be changed. The question mark (?) indicates something to think about or a possible alternative – not that something is wrong or right. The smiley symbol ( :-) ) symbol says that this is what was happening in the lesson and that was a good thing – the trainee is doing well.

Say how as well as why

It is easy to describe what was happening in a lesson and write down what the success or problem was, but trainees also need strategies for how to build on success or solve a problem. For example, consider this written feedback:

Time Feedback
46 minutes Be careful with your instructions at this point. It isn’t clear what you want your students to do.

The feedback highlights a problem at a certain point in the lesson, but it does not offer a solution. It may be that a solution can be brainstormed or discussed in the oral feedback, but we need to be sure that the trainee is also provided with a strategy in the written feedback to help resolve the issue. The trainer could add comments like:

When you plan your lesson next time, rehearse your instructions with your peers beforehand.

Record your lesson next time and listen to your instructions.

Re-plan these instructions after the lesson to make them clearer.

 Summing up

At the end, the feedback needs to be clear about areas to work on or develop and the list should be realistic (e.g. not too many areas – one is often enough for new teachers, two to three for the more experienced). Also mention in the same list any successes from the lesson which you want the trainee to continue using, building on and developing.



Categories: Teacher Training

Tags: , , , , ,

4 replies

  1. Great work ,as a teacher trainer ,i am too late to join in your community

  2. Nice to say hi all! I’m an English teacher. These days I am taking training course for a trainer. I have been asked to write feedback on a trainer. er… I’m afraid of writing it. I found your article ineresting.
    Roza

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