The In-service Feedback Session To Actively Promote Teacher
by Henny Burke
above teacher had done her CTEFLA course in November 1993,
and had only been teaching for three months when this observation
and feedback session took place. Freeman (1982) would probably
advocate, according to his "hierarchy of needs", that this
teacher would be best suited with his Prescriptive or Alternatives
approach. However, I would argue that any teacher at any stage
of his/her career could benefit from the feedback framework
I am proposing. Possibly, the more experienced the teacher,
the less need for phase three, but this is not necessarily
so. What is important in this framework is that the three
phases are flexible. The responsiveness of the teacher to
each phase dictates the length of time it is necessary to
spend on each one.
Evaluation Of The 3 Phase Feedback Framework
order to evaluate the 3 phase feedback framework, I asked
eight teachers who had been observed by me from October 1993
- May 1994 to fill out a questionnaire in June 1994.
a) How did you feel while you were receiving the feedback?
In response to this question all teachers felt relaxed during
the feedback session. "Relaxed. I felt that I was really thinking
about and analysing my own teaching, approach to teaching
and that class in particular." "I didn't feel as though I
was being criticised. In some ways teaching is quite a "private" thing - only your students know what you actually do in the
classroom and it's quite strange to be sharing it and then
discussing it, but it's also quite reassuring."
b)How did you feel after the feedback sessions? All teachers
felt positive after the feedback session: "Optimistic that
students' problems might be able to be tackled." However,
more than one teacher reported feeling tired. "Quite tired,
due I suppose to the fact that I did all the talking and thinking
- not a bad thing." The fact that some teachers found the
feedback sessions tiring indicates to me that they were participating
very actively in the process and self-development was indeed
c)To what extent do you think you will consciously try and
incorporate the feedback given in the prescription stage into
your teaching? The responses to this question suggest that
all teachers did try and incorporate the feedback into their
teaching. "I've since done a couple of lessons on revision/improvement
which have been very successful and helped the students realise
how much more they know." However, not all the ideas that
came up in the feedback sessions proved to be successful with
the students. "Gave them learner diaries but absolutely no
response from them."
you find the feedback relevant to your general teaching situation?
In answer to this question all teachers found the feedback
relevant. One teacher's answer to this question helps explain
why this was so: "The opportunity for guiding the feedback
towards areas you yourself would like to explore is there
which is great."
this feedback similar to or different from the feedback you
received on your CTEFLA course? This question raised interesting
responses. One teacher felt both feedback situations were
similar; two teachers felt they were similar in some ways
and five teachers felt they were completely different. "Similar
in that you were expected to analyse and criticise the lesson
for yourself, but different in content." "It's different.
This feedback is more discussing techniques, ideas etc. and
during the CTEFLA course the feedback is more critical."
you feel the observer had a particular view of teaching which
was not necessarily compatible with your view of teaching?
In response to this question everybody answered in the negative. "In fact, I don't think the observer's view of teaching was
a central issue. Feedback is more about one's own view."
you feel you were being allowed to develop and get to know
yourself as a teacher in the feedback sessions? All the teachers
felt they were listened to and allowed to express themselves
in the feedback sessions. However, one teacher felt she could
have benefited from more prescription.
but I would honestly like your opinions too. I know you don't
like to influence people but for me it would have been helpful
to have been given a little more direction."
is an interesting comment as I felt I had given quite a lot
of direction in the third phase of our feedback sessions,
but she obviously had not perceived it as prescriptive enough.
My interpretation of this point is that the fault does not
lie in the feedback framework I am proposing, but probably
lies in the way I handled that part of the feedback sessions.
I needed to mark the stages more clearly.
factor might have been that the above teacher was less convinced
about the value of self-exploration and wished to receive
advice from an authority figure. Freeman(1 982) might argue
that, being a relatively new teacher of eight months' experience,
she needed more prescription. However, I feel this is more
related to personality and learning background as another
teacher with even less experience in response to the same
definitely feel that I have developed a lot throughout these
months. Feedback did have a part to play, but quite small,
and I think that student responses and a process of trial
and error have been far more important."
did you feel about doing the focussing circles? Most teachers
found it quite difficult to do the focussing circles: "They're
a good idea, but I do find it difficult to think of things
to write." A teacher of nine years' experience, made an interesting
point with respect to focussing circles: "Self-criticism has
to be taught from the beginning of one's TEFL career instead
of so much observation. I mean, this technique should be used
from Day 1 as a constant self-criticism technique."
important was the written feedback for you? Did you feel oral
feedback would have been enough? The oral feedback was valued
more highly than the written feedback, but the latter was
viewed as a good record. "Not as important as the oral, though
a good reference point."
you have any comments/suggestions on how the oral/written
feedback you received throughout this year could have been
more effective? An interesting comment was made in response
to this question: "Perhaps there could have been more involvement
and feedback at the lesson planning stage."
feel free to add any other comments you feel it would be useful
for me to be aware of? In response to this question, the comments
below show how stressful in-service observation is for many
teachers. "Inevitably fear of the observation changes the
class to a certain degree from a normal one. Perhaps the observee
should be encouraged to compare these or have it more clearly
indicated that the idea is one of self-improvement and not
I had hoped that the feedback framework I am proposing would
have solved the problems this teacher raises. However, fear
of observation often runs deep. It is my belief that the more
this kind of feedback framework is employed, the more teachers'
minds will be put at rest because its main aim really is to
promote teacher self-development.
listened to audio-tapes of the feedback sessions and studied
the Post-Lesson tasks; Focussing Circles; written profiles
and having read the teachers' evaluation of this feedback
framework, I am convinced that it is possible to actively
promote teacher development in the feedback session. An essential
factor in this process is the supervisor's use of active listening
whereby teachers are encouraged to express themselves; hear
themselves and ultimately become more self-aware.
the theme of development I have also become convinced of the
validity to supervisors of audio-taping feedback sessions
that they conduct. By listening to what we, as supervisors,
are saying we also become aware of prejudices and fixed ideas
that we hold. Freeman claims that development encompasses, "aspects of a teacher's teaching that stem from attitude toward,
and awareness of, self in the classroom." (Freeman 1989: 40)
In order for teacher educators to develop they need to be
equally aware of aspects stemming from their attitude toward,
and awareness of self in feedback sessions.
J. 1992 Cooperative Development. Longman Group.UK Ltd.
R. 1986 The Skilled Helper.(3rd ed.) Wadsworth lnc, Belmont,
D. 1982 "Observing Teachers: Three Approaches To Inservice
Training And Development." TESOL Quarterly. Vol.16 No. 1 March
D. 1989 "Teacher Training, Development And Decision Making:
A Model Of Teaching And Related Strategies For Language Teacher
Education. TESOL Quarterly Vol.23 No.1 March 1989: 27-45
Burke is Co-Director of Studies at the British Language
Centre, Madrid. Spain. She works as a teacher and a teacher
trainer on inservice programmes, RSA/UCLES CTEFLA/CELTA
and DTEFLA/DELTA courses. She has completed the Aston
University MSc. course in Teaching English & is currently
involved in coursebook writing for Cambridge University
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