3 Secrets to Do Right By a New Generation of Teachers

Student Teacher Observation in Front of Classroom

Education programs are letting down their student teachers and, by extension, students across the country.

In their article, “Providing Performance Feedback to Teachers: A Review,” Mary Catherine Sheeler, Kathy Ruhl, and James McAfee (2004) criticize the evaluation and assessment of student teachers for not being strict enough—but not without suggesting a solution. They propose that “because almost all preservice teachers eventually become inservice teachers, regardless of ability, teacher educators must identify and encourage teachers to use effective teaching practices early and consistently” (396).

In his article, “Feedback on Teaching From Observations of Teaching: What Do Administrators Say and What Do Teachers Think About It?” Edit Khachatryan (2015) posits that great feedback is foundational for positive change among teachers. She writes, “We know that if teachers do not find the feedback they receive to be meaningful and useful, their practice will not change” (167).

Identifying and encouraging student teachers through formative feedback is the best way to prepare them to meet the demands of their careers and the future of education.

So, here are three research-backed tips for improving feedback to student teachers.

Make it visual

Making your feedback visual will help your students really understand how to improve.

In their analysis of using visual performance feedback to increase the frequency of positive feedback given by teachers, Chris Sweigart, Timothy Landrum, and Robert Pennington (2015) found that positive feedback given by study participants only increased after receiving a graph that depicted how often they gave positive feedback the day before.

Graphs, charts, and diagrams can help your student teachers visualize their current behaviors and make plans to improve.

Use video for student teaching observations

Using video to give student teachers feedback is a must.

Like visual performance feedback, video helps students visualize their actual behavior. So by recording a student teaching observation, supervisors give their interns the ability to see it all in action.

In their piece, “Record, Replay, Reflect: Videotaped Lessons Accelerate Learning for Teachers and Coaches,” Jim Knight et al. (2012) give their four reasons for using video to help teachers improve.

  1. “Cameras help educators obtain an objective, accurate view of themselves at work” (19).
  2. “Video recordings propel educators forward into change” (19).
  3. “Video recordings are important for goal setting within coaching” (19).
  4. “Because video recorded on small cameras is easy to gather and of high quality, it provides a picture of reality that can be used to measure progress toward a goal” (19).

Video is objective, influential, important, and easy.

And it works. Teachers who are video recorded improve. Erika Pinter et al. (2015), in their article, “Effects of a Video-Feedback Intervention on Teachers’ Use of Praise,” note that “participants…felt the video feedback intervention was effective in increasing awareness of their own behavior” (465).

Identifying and encouraging student teachers through formative feedback is the best way to prepare them.

The sooner, the better

When giving feedback to student teachers, research shows that timing matters a lot. Mary Scheeler et al. indicate that “the only attribute that clearly demonstrates efficacy as a characteristic of effective feedback is immediacy. Thus, it seems obvious that supervisors should seek ways to provide feedback as close to the occurrence of teaching behavior as possible” (404).

By providing student teachers feedback as quickly as possible, you give them a chance to change quicker.

There way more where this came from! Try our next teacher ed article Secrets of Teacher Ed Part 1: A Game-Changing Tool. You can also subscribe to our education newsletter, The Yardstick & Apple.

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Works cited

Khachatryan, Edit. “Feedback on Teaching From Observations of Teaching: What Do Administrators Say and What Do Teachers Think About It?” NASSP Bulletin 99, no. 2 (2015): 164-188.

Knight, Jim, Barbara A. Bradley, Michael Hock, Thomas M. Skrtic, David Knight, Irma Brasseur-Hock, Jean Clark, Marilyn Ruggles, and Carol Hutton. “Record, Replay, Reflect: Videotaped Lessons Accelerate Learning for Teachers and Coaches.” Journal of Staff Development 33, no. 2 (2012): 18–23.

Pinter, Erika, Allison East, and Nicole Thrush. “Effects of a Video-Feedback Intervention on Teachers’ Use of Praise.” Education and Treatment of Children 38, no. 4 (2015): 451–472.

Scheeler, Mary, Kathleen McKinnon, and Jonathan Stout. “Effects of Immediate Feedback Delivered via Webcam and Bug-in-Ear Technology on Preservice Teacher Performance.” Teacher Education and Special Education 35, no. 1 (2012): 77–90.

Scheeler, Mary, Kathy Ruhl, and James McAfee. “Providing Performance Feedback to Teachers: A Review.” Teacher Education and Special Education 27, no. 4 (2004): 396–407.

Sweigart, Chris, Timothy Landrum, and Robert Pennington. “The Effects of Real-time Visual Performance Feedback on Teacher Feedback: A Preliminary Investigation.” Education and Treatment of Children 38, no. 4 (2015): 429–450.

Van den Bergh, Linda, Anje Ros, & Douwe Beijaard. “Improving Teacher Feedback During Active Learning: Effects of a Professional Development Program.” American Education Research Journal 51, no. 4 (2014): 772–809.