Instructional Coaching: Post-Observation & Feedback

Instructor: Loren Rozanski

Loren has a B.S. in History and a M.S. in Special Education. She works actively in the education field.

An important part of instructional coaching is conferencing after you conduct a classroom observation. This lesson explores strategies to use to help you provide clear post-observation feedback during the conference.

Next Steps After An Observation

Ms. Smith is a brand new teacher. She struggles with classroom management and is having a hard time getting all her students focused on learning. Her principal suggests that she should be observed by an instructional coach, Mr. Brown, who can help give her some insight on her teaching.

An important part of being an instructional coach, or a mentor teacher that works with other teachers, is conducting observations. Being an experienced teacher allows them to give constructive feedback about the teaching practices they observe.

Coaches should always conduct a post-observation meeting to debrief what they observed and offer help. Let's take a look at good practices for post-observation meetings.

Post-Observation Reflection

After Mr. Brown conducted an observation, it is critical to give both himself and Ms. Smith a day or two to debrief. During this time, he should instruct the teacher to think about the following questions:

  • What do you feel went well during the observation?
  • What did you feel did not go well during the observation?
  • Review the lesson plan - did you meet all your expected objectives?
  • What might you do differently next time?
  • What other questions do you have?

At the same time, as the instructional coach, Mr. Brown should be conducting a similar reflection of his own. Some questions to reflect on are:

  • Did Ms. Smith meet the lesson objective? If not, what prevented her from meeting it?
  • What classroom behaviors did I observe? How did Ms. Smith respond to these?
  • Why was there a gap between the expected objective/behaviors and how could it be filled?
  • What is the best way to present this information to the teacher?

Conducting a Post-Observation Meeting

Be sure to bring notes taken during the observation to your post-observation meeting to use for data.
post observation meeting

After Mr. Brown allowed time for reflection, it is time to hold the post-observation meeting. He tries to schedule his meeting about two days after the observation. This allows for reflection time, but is not too far out that the lesson cannot be remembered.

Feedback and constructive criticism is hard for most people to listen to, so Mr. Brown uses a few of these tips to help make the meeting run smoothly:

  • Set a positive climate. Meet in their classroom if possible so they feel comfortable.
  • Rely on data. Show the teacher what you observed and how it impacted the lesson.
  • Be specific about the problems witnessed. Don't give general feedback, but rather explain how you saw the problem manifest in the observation.
  • Ask them to paraphrase. Asking the teacher to mirror back the feedback they have heard ensures there was clear communication in the meeting. This goes both ways, if the teacher outlines a problem they are having, reflect it back to them in a way that ensures you understood. Such as, ''So if I understand you correctly, you are having trouble...''

Mr. Brown talks openly about what he observed and what strategies they may try to fix the problem. He tells Ms. Smith that while she is very strong in her content, she is not enforcing her class rules.

To be specific, he describes a scenario he witnessed where Ms. Smith asked a student to put the phone away. When the student refused, rather than issuing a consequence, Ms. Smith went back to teaching, and the student continued to stay on the phone.

Mr. Brown suggests two or three different strategies that Ms. Smith could try to address the issue. This gives her options to try without overwhelming her with too many. He then asks her to paraphrase the issues they've gone over to make sure they are on the same page. When she does, Mr. Brown suggests meeting together in a few weeks to provide feedback on how the strategies went.

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