Beyond the Performance Review
Six tips for giving teachers quick and consistent feedback
When I was a classroom teacher in Boston, I had an administrator who gave quick and consistent feedback with every educator’s best friend: the Post-it note. While making her rounds through the building, she would stop at every classroom and take notes. Later, we’d find these Post-its on our desks or in our mailboxes with feedback on what she saw.
Her feedback always contained two critical components: something positive followed by a question. For example, “I have never seen Michael that engaged in the classroom. Wow! I am wondering if you can share more about how you decided to create that type of project considering the needs of all the students in the classroom.”
Not only did her approach build a positive climate, it created a culture that encouraged learning and sharing from one another, deepening practice across the entire school. As a young teacher, I valued the quick insights into how I was performing well before my review.
Instructional leaders place a lot of emphasis on teachers giving students rapid feedback, but we don’t do this nearly enough with our team. This is a missed opportunity to practice what we preach while building a positive schoolwide culture and supporting professional growth.
Here, I outline six ways instructional leaders can give teachers feedback outside of the traditional performance review.
- Text! - Texts are the new Post-its. Don’t be afraid to share feedback through the day or week using your cell phone or chat system.
- Listen First - Ask teachers what they are focusing on, trying, or exploring before you give feedback. Use this to guide your feedback.
- Give Schoolwide Shout-outs - Celebrate your team through daily schoolwide shout-outs. This type of feedback isn’t as deep, but it sets a positive tone for future feedback.
- Think of the Growth Mindset - While you don’t need to pair every piece of critical feedback with a positive piece of feedback, be aware that only being critical will not be successful.
- Provide a Focus - Be clear about what your teachers should work on and provide feedback accordingly.
- Make Copies - Try to use carbon copy pages when giving feedback so you can keep a copy in the teacher’s file come formal evaluation time.
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A former special education and English teacher, school administrator, and district leader for Boston Public Schools, Kavita is an expert on teacher training, Universal Design for Learning, and bilingual language learners. In addition to her work at ThinkCERCA, Kavita is a Cadre member at the Center for Applied Special Technology, where she teaches courses on UDL and provides training to districts and universities across the U.S.