If you’ve happened to read my blog post titled ‘Seven Top Tips for NQTs’ you’ll have no doubt read point five which was summarised as ‘Sometimes, Feedback Isn’t Pleasant’. No one enjoys criticism and even if the observer is as nice as pie, sometimes you can come away feeling defeated and demoralised. This got me thinking. How can you handle lesson observation feedback in a positive and constructive way?
Organise a Time and Place
If given the option, avoid immediate feedback but organise a meeting immediately. This is for two reasons. First of all, you’re likely to want some time to relax after an observation and you’ll both need time to reflect on it anyway. Secondly, organising a meeting immediately means you’re not chasing an elusive member of staff around the school and feeling anxious because you’re waiting to hear how it all went.
“So how do you think that went?”
This question shouldn’t come as a surprise – it’s usually the first thing an observer is likely to ask you and unless you’re receiving your feedback immediately after the lesson is over, you should’ve spent some time reflecting upon the lesson. Consider the greatest strengths and weaknesses before the question is even asked and share them with the observer – that way, some of the feedback might come as less of a shock.
“You could’ve tried this…”
Sometimes, an observer will point out an approach that might’ve worked better in a particular situation – and of course, they may have missed exactly that upon leaving the room. Avoid coming across as defensive and closed in your response and instead explain that’s exactly what you did and what impact that had. Of course, if the observer is offering a method you’ve never considered before… try it next time. It’s a waste of everyone’s time if you’re not willing to try something new.
Come Prepared with Questions
Avoid letting your feedback sessions become one-sided, there’s nothing worse than nodding your head and repeating ‘okay’ time and time again. If you’ve had the time to reflect upon the lesson, hopefully, you’ll be able to write down a few questions for the observer. “Your questioning techniques weren’t as effective as they could’ve been” isn’t as useful as you jumping the gun and saying “I felt like my questioning techniques weren’t as effective as I’d have liked. What would you suggest I do to improve them going forward?”
And Remember, It’s Nothing Personal…
Even the harshest of criticism should be presented in a constructive way – nothing should be a reflection upon you as a person and everything an observer tells you should be entirely actionable going forward.
What other hints, tips and advice do you have when it comes to receiving lesson observation feedback? Let us know!
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