The most-critical aspect of the DPAS-II process - the part that ensures that teachers have the support, knowledge, and resources that they need to grow - is the feedback that teachers receive from their observer. Effective feedback helps a teacher and observer to identify where the teacher’s practice is strong, and where improvement could further accelerate student outcomes.
In her book
Talk About Teaching: Leading Professional Conversations
, Charlotte Danielson describes the value of feedback and professional conversations this way:
“A professional conversation is more than an opportunity to offer support to a teacher engaged in challenging work. It also provides the setting with an agenda and an important opportunity to push at the margins, to promote an examination of underlying principles of learning and teaching. That is, when an observer has spent time, even a short amount of time, in a classroom watching the students’ activity and their interactions with one another and with the teacher, the two educators now have something concrete to discuss.”
There are six steps you might pursue to develop and deliver effective feedback.
1 - Identify and share precise praise
. Before you meet with the teacher, prepare statements of praise that recognize strengths, implementation of previous feedback, and concrete growth. No matter how the lesson evolved, find something positive to start the conversation with. Begin with this praise.
2 - Discuss the lesson.
Once you have identified a couple observed strengths within the teacher’s practice, move the conversation to a discussion of the lesson. When you think about the times you’ve been coached well, or a seen a teacher make growth, it usually isn’t from someone just telling you what to do. In the same way that in a classroom, learning is done by students (so they have to be the ones thinking, talking, writing, etc. ) for teachers, they are learners too, and so reflection and growth comes from them engaging intellectually. If we simply tell them what to do, they are not invested or building the skills that will make them a successful practitioner who can reflect and adjust practice in the moment. The conversation can start with the end goal, what excellence looks like. Then, explore any gap between the end goal and the current levels of performance. Lastly, close that gap - discuss what the teacher could have done differently or, even better, model other options.
3 - Share the Action Step.
Before you share feedback with the teacher, identify an action step that, if the teacher incorporated into his/her practice, student outcomes would improve. Action steps should be:
- Bite-sized: targeted, specific actions that can be accomplished in 1-2 weeks
- Specific: clear and actionable so that you and the teacher can assess progress
- Observable: able to be observed in the lesson, ideally in the next week or two
Share the action step with the teacher, and make the connection between the practice you observed the improvement that the teacher would see if he or she implemented the action step.
4 - Plan Ahead.
Once you’ve shared the action step and discussed it with the teacher, design or revise upcoming plans to implement the action step. Discuss with the teacher what he or she will do to implement the change, and how you will support him/her.
5 - Practice.
Take the time to practice how to implement the action step in to current or future lessons. Pause at the point of error and give immediate feedback to the teacher; repeat until successful.
6 - Follow-up.
Feedback and action steps are only helpful if you as the observer follow-up with the teacher. In the conversation, confirm the next steps and timeline for the teacher to implement the action step feedback, and when you as the observer will follow up.
Last May, we shared a professional development that goes deep into the Six Steps for Effective Feedback and includes video examples of what each step looks like in practice. Click
to download the materials, and
to visit the May 2018 newsletter