Observing and Giving Feedback

The following are ideas that should supplement those already uploaded within the Teach Meet Resources. In my career to date I have had the opportunity to mentor, coach and support a number of teachers at different stages in their development. These are some of the key things I have learnt along the way as an observer of lessons across a range of subjects and contexts. In 2015 I also did a PGCert on ‘Mentoring and Coaching Beginning Teachers’ with Nottingham University which has informed my comments on giving feedback. The reading list that follows gives an up to date overview on the current state of research into observation and feedback and makes for interesting reading for mentors, coaches and mentees.

  • Suggestions of how to begin feedback conversations

– Asking what they thought went well
– What do you think the pupils learnt today?
– To what extent do you think you’re a) teaching objectives b) the learning objectives were met?
– Asking questions specifically about the focus of the observation
– Asking how they feel about the lesson
– ‘Talk me through the lesson’

• Guidelines for observers

– Agree a focus where possible and limit feedback so it is particular and not general
– Check in advance what the teacher is comfortable with (silent observer, getting involved, asking the pupils questions, moving around…)
– Writing a commentary
– Note questions to raise in feedback e.g. Can you tell me why you chose this activity?
– Look at what pupils write down, what they say to their friends, listen to the questions they ask
– Don’t say ‘I would have done it like this…’ accept different approaches and teaching styles
– Set up a time for feedback when set up the observation, but allow some reflection time in between for both observer and observed.
– Theory/research indicates that the most effective mentoring takes place when the mentor prompts reflection and the mentee reaches their own conclusions
– Don’t be too positive or too critical – refer to Hobson’s article on JUDGEMENTORING
– Look into research on ‘developmental mentoring’ which focuses on creating an open and trusting relationship with mentees that will enable them to engage reflectively and critically in their own development.

• Guidelines for those being observed

– Be clear about what you would like the observer to focus on
– Provide a plan and copies of resources
– Explain prior learning and what will happen next
– Let the observer know what you would like them to do

• Reflection points to help those being observed

– What went well and WHY
– What have you learnt/would do differently WHY? HOW?
– What would you like the observers view on/advice about?
– What did the pupils go away having learnt and how do you know they learnt it?
– Based on the lesson’s learning, what will you do next lesson?

Some useful reading:
Brockbank, A. and McGill, I. (2012) Facilitating reflective learning: Coaching, mentoring and supervision, London: Kogan Page Ltd.
Harris, B. (2007) Supporting the emotional work of school leaders, London: Sage Publications Ltd.
Harrison, J. Dymoke, S. and Pell, T. (2004) ‘Mentoring beinning teachers in secondary schools: An analysis of practice’, Teaching and Teacher Education, Vol. 22, pp. 1055-1067.
Hobson, A. et al. (2009) ‘Mentoring beginning teachers: What we know and what we don’t’, Teaching and Teacher Education. 25 (1): 207-216.
Hobson, A. and Malderez, A. (2013) ‘Judgementoring and other threats to realizing the potential of school-based mentoring in teacher education’, International Journal of Mentoring and Coaching in Education, vol. 2 (2), pp. 89-108.
Hobson, A. and McIntyre, J. (2013) ‘Teacher fabrication as an impediment to professional learning and development: the external mentor antidote’ Oxford Review of Education, Vol. 39 (3), pp. 345-365.
Jones, M. Nettleton, P. and Smith, L. (2005) ‘The mentoring chameleon – A critical analysis of mentors’ and mentees’ perceptions of the mentoring role in professional education and training programmes for teachers, nurses, midwives and doctors’, Paper presented at the British Educational Research Association Annual Conference, University of Glamorgan, September.
Mason, J. (2002), Researching your own practice: The discipline of noticing, Oxon: RoutledgeFalmer.
McIntyre, J. and Hobson, A. (2015) ‘Supporting beginner teacher identity development: external mentors and the third space’ Research Papers in Education, DOI: 10.1080/02671522.2015.1015438
Pask, R. and Barrie, J. (2007) Mentoring and coaching: A guide for education professionals, Maidenhead: Open University Press.
Schon, D. (1991) The Reflective Practitioner: How Professionals Think in Action, Surrey: Arena.


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