8.1 Reflecting on current feedback practice
The discussion with the student teacher after the lesson observation has two important purposes. Firstly, it helps them improve their teaching and secondly, it helps them learn to evaluate and reflect on their practice, which sows the seed for continuous professional development. However, not all feedback discussions achieve these two key purposes. Student teachers may reject the feedback or feel overwhelmed and unable to act on it. How the discussion and feedback is conducted is crucial to achieving the aims.
Activity 8.1: Giving feedback to my student teacher
This activity helps you to reflect on your current feedback practice.
Before you read this section, think about the last time you gave feedback to a student teacher.
- how much of the time did you spend talking?
- how much of the time did the student teacher talk?
- how many questions did you ask the student teacher?
- how many questions did the student teacher ask?
- how many suggestions on possible improvements did you make?
- how many suggestions on possible improvements did the student teacher make?
- how many suggestions on possible alternative strategies did you make?
- how many suggestions on possible alternative strategies did the student teacher make?
Return to these questions on your own experiences once you have read this section on good practice. Are there any changes you might make?
Research has provided valuable insights into conducting feedback so that it supports learning. Before considering this, consider the experience of the student teacher.
Activity 8.2: In the student teacher’s shoes
This activity will help you to reflect on the experience of student teachers.
Read through Danny’s account of a visit and answer the questions posed before proceeding with the next part of the story. If possible, work with colleagues to discuss your responses to the questions.
Danny is expecting a visit from his supervisor, Christine, and he is very nervous.
“Teaching is much harder than I thought it was going to be. I’m expected to be using these active teaching and learning methods – the ones I learned about in college. I am trying to use these methods and I have had some successes, but it doesn’t always go well and the other teachers don’t really do it. My Supervisor has just arrived and is meeting the head teacher. My palms are sweating!”
- what does Danny need from his Supervisor at this stage of the visit?
- what would be helpful to him?
- what would not be helpful?
“I taught the lesson. My Supervisor sat at the back of the class making notes. I wondered what she was writing. I was so nervous at first, but then I stopped noticing her. Then I saw that she was not in her seat! I saw that she was talking to learners and looking at their exercise books. I was wondering what they were telling her!”
- why do you think Christine was talking to learners and looking at their books?
- what could Christine have done to prevent Danny from becoming anxious?
“When the lesson finished, I was relieved. My head was in a spin – I was buzzing! It had gone well. I had stuck to my plan and the learners had lots of notes in their books. I had used some pair work and a demonstration to please my tutor. I thought my Supervisor would be happy.”
Danny is feeling quite pleased with the lesson, but Christine has some concerns. The lesson was too teacher-centred and relied on note taking from the board. The pair work was brief and not managed well. Similarly, the demonstration Danny had done did not involve the learners. Many could not see what he was doing and just messed about at the back.
- if you were Christine, what would you do next and want to find out?
- how could Christine help Danny see the problems with the lesson?
- what might happen if she simply starts by telling him that the lesson was not good and what he needs to improve?
“The feedback was not as good as I was expecting. There was so much that she said was not good. I felt very bad by the end. I feel I am far away from being a good teacher. There just seems so much to do and put right. I understand what she was saying but I don’t know what to do next time.”
Christine provided detailed feedback, but Danny is left feeling overwhelmed and hopeless.
- what could Christine have done differently to ensure that Danny was challenged, but not left feeling so negative?