How to use feedback support your teachers’ professional learning

Professional development is an important factor in effective teaching, and providing teachers with meaningful feedback is a key component. This feedback can take many forms, such as through faculty meetings, peer reviews, and formal observation of classroom performance. Its primary function is to provide teachers insight into their strengths and weaknesses so they can improve their instructional strategies for the betterment of both themselves and their students. Regular feedback provides direction for teachers on how to become more successful, enhances their morale, increases motivation to continue making progress, and ultimately fosters a positive connection between teacher and student that will lead to higher learning outcomes. Supporting professional development with valuable feedback is invaluable to teacher effectiveness and the ultimate achievement level of their students.

Here are some strategies for supporting teacher feedback:

  1. Make it a priority: Feedback is a powerful tool for improving teaching and learning. For instance, frequent feedback helps teachers understand the strengths and weaknesses of their methods, along with how their students are receiving the instruction. On the other hand, effective feedback gives students insight into their progress and provides them with tangible strategies for development. By making teacher feedback a priority in instructional design, schools and districts can foster an environment of significant growth for all involved. Moreover, valuing feedback sends the message that mistakes are integral parts of the learning process rather than measures of failure. In short, when leveraged properly, feedback truly has the potential to transform teaching and learning for everyone involved.
  2. Provide multiple sources of feedback: As teachers strive to maintain effective instruction and promote student learning, it is essential for them to have access to various sources of feedback. Authoritative feedback from supervisors allows teachers to get direct feedback from a supervisor on their teaching practices, while feedback from peers and colleagues provides a valuable perspective outside the classroom. Additionally, including student views in the feedback process offers an insightful perspective that can help teachers hone their teaching methods. By obtaining input through different lenses, it can equip teachers with a more comprehensive and nuanced understanding of how they can improve their pedagogical approaches and create effective teaching environments which ultimately lead to better student outcomes.
  3. Encourage self-reflection: Effective teaching is a complex craft that requires a continuous cycle of self-reflection and improvement. Developing this skillset requires dedication, but the payoff is worth it: teachers that take the time to assess and evaluate their own performance become much more effective educators. Tools such as lesson debriefs, self-reflection exercises, and structured assessments can empower teachers to accurately measure their progress and make modifications to their practice. Self-reflection should not be seen as a chore – rather, it is an essential part of every educator’s journey towards professional growth.
  4. Offer support and resources: As teachers strive to deliver the best possible learning experience for their students, feedback can be a valuable tool for improvement. To make the most of this feedback, however, teachers may need access to additional sources of support and resources. This could include professional development opportunities to hone their skills, coaching or mentorship opportunities that allow them to learn from more experienced colleagues, and instructional materials or technology access that empower them to optimize their teaching practices. With this level of support, teachers can implement necessary changes in order to enhance their work and further improve the quality of education being provided to students.
  5. Make it timely and actionable: Timely feedback can be extremely beneficial for teachers, as they are able to quickly and accurately assess what improvements they can make on the job. Furthermore, feedback should not be vague or overly generalized; rather, it should be specific and help to identify concrete steps that the teacher can take to better their practices and move their students forward in learning. When teachers receive this kind of detailed feedback, coupled with a timeline and defined goals, they are far more likely to be successful in and empowered by their work. Therefore, it is important for educators to not only provide feedback that is understandable and actionable but also timely so that teachers are always encouraged to improve in the most efficient manner possible.

Schools can foster a supportive environment that encourages teacher growth and aids in student learning through the implementation of simple yet effective strategies. These strategies include providing teachers with necessary resources, implementing technology to facilitate learning, and allowing for collaboration among teachers. With access to these tools, teachers are better equipped to respond quickly to changing education needs and develop innovative approaches to teaching. Additionally, providing feedback and professional development opportunities allows teachers to stay abreast of current research and understand the impact their teaching is having on students while also improving their own professional practice. As a result, teachers’ morale is likely to increase resulting in improved student learning outcomes.

Author: Dr Jake Madden

Jake Madden (Dip Teach; B.Ed; Grad Dip: Leadership; M. Ed: Leadership; EdD; FACEL; MACE) Dr. Jake Madden is currently the Principal, St Edward’s Primary School, Tamworth. He has enjoyed a successful teaching and principal leadership career over the last thirty years building teacher capacity through the development of learning in the contemporary world, the promotion of flexible learning spaces to meet the needs of the 21st century learner and curriculum for global mindedness. Jake is a leader in the notion of teacher-as-researcher and is widely published in this area, authoring and co-authoring books and a number of journal articles showcasing his experiences and research into leading educational change.

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