Education Opinion

Common Mistakes When Giving Feedback

By Elena Aguilar — February 15, 2016 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

I’ve discovered a new podcast: the School Leadership Show, by Mike Doughty. Although it’s “for school administrators, by school administrators,” there are lots of episodes that are meaningful and relevant for coaches and teacher leaders. As a devourer of podcasts, this is a great work-related addition to my feed.

On the most recent podcast, Doughty interviewed two people whom I also recommend: First, Doug Stone, the co-author of Difficult Conversations and Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well. And second, Jenn David-Lang who writes The Main Idea: Current Education Book Summaries. Every month, Jenn offers an eight-page summary of an education related book--these are very thorough, thoughtful digests which often inspire me to read the whole book.

Now, onto sharing the ideas shared in the podcast, an interview with Doug Stone and Jenn David-Lang. Doug Stone first reviewed the three kinds of feedback that are needed in schools:

  1. Evaluation--which we need because it gives us a sense of whether we’re meeting goals and how we compare to others.
  2. Coaching--the purpose of which is to help people improve.
  3. Appreciations--we want and need to feel seen, understood, and appreciated. So often in schools we don’t get enough appreciations.

I appreciated these clear buckets for feedback. And I really appreciated what Jenn David-Lang shared about the second kind of feedback. She commented that John Hattie has done an exhaustive analysis of over 50,000 studies that shows which school factors have the highest impact on student achievement. Hattie’s analysis concluded that giving formative feedback to teachers--offering coaching, has an effect size of .90, which is a huge, huge influence on achievement. She emphasized that if schools can effectively offer teachers feedback, there’s tremendous potential for improvement. I capture and cite anything that validates coaching and we need all the research (and meta-analysis) we can get.

Mistakes When Giving Feedback

Jenn was asked her opinion on the biggest mistakes that administrators make when giving feedback. Again, I think this applies to coaches as well. Here they are:

  1. Not being aware that teachers need coaching, appreciation, and evaluation. Teachers need all three. (Coaches need all three too! And site administrators!)
  2. School leaders don’t work hard enough on developing relationships before giving feedback. Principals need to develop relationship, trust, credibility before giving feedback. (Coaches need to develop relationships before giving feedback too!).
  3. We give feedback that is too vague. We need to share one specific thing that we observed and one thing that the teacher can do to change. (Coaches--even if we’re firmly grounded in facilitative stances, we can, and perhaps need to offer specifics for change at times).
  4. We don’t always provide teachers with clear criteria. We need to be clear about what we’re coming in to observe and the criteria we’ll use. (For coaches: when we’re supposed to give feedback in a context in which there isn’t criteria or agreement on what we’ll observe or give feedback on, it makes our work much harder).
  5. Not following up on feedback. After giving feedback, go into the classroom and see what is being implemented. (So true for coaches, also. Our follow up is essential).

I hope this has inspired you to read Doug’s book, or subscribe to Jenn’s Main Ideas, or listen to the podcast, or reflect on your own feedback! So many learning opportunities...so little time.

The opinions expressed in The Art of Coaching Teachers are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Leadership for Racial Equity in Schools and Beyond
While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to reveal systemic racial disparities in educational opportunity, there are revelations to which we can and must respond. Through conscientious efforts, using an intentional focus on race, school leaders can
Content provided by Corwin
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Evaluating Equity to Drive District-Wide Action this School Year
Educational leaders are charged with ensuring all students receive equitable access to a high-quality education. Yet equity is more than an action. It is a lens through which we continuously review instructional practices and student
Content provided by BetterLesson

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Schools Get the Brunt of Latest COVID Wave in South Carolina
In the past few weeks, South Carolina has set records for COVID-19 hospitalizations and new cases have approached peak levels of last winter.
4 min read
Two Camden Elementary School students in masks listen as South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster talks about steps the school is taking to fight COVID-19, Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021, in Camden, S.C. McMaster has adamantly and repeatedly come out against requiring masks in schools even as the average number of daily COVID-19 cases in the state has risen since early June. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins)
Education More States Are Requiring Schools to Teach Native American History and Culture
Advocates say their efforts have gained some momentum with the nation’s reckoning over racial injustice since the killing of George Floyd.
3 min read
A dancer participates in an intertribal dance at Schemitzun on the Mashantucket Pequot Reservation in Mashantucket, Conn., Saturday, Aug. 28, 2021. Connecticut and a handful of other states have recently decided to mandate students be taught about Native American culture and history. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
Education Judge's Temporary Order Allows Iowa Schools to Mandate Masks
A federal judge ordered the state to immediately halt enforcement of a law that prevents school boards from ordering masks to be worn.
4 min read
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks to reporters following a news conference, Thursday, Aug. 19, 2021, in West Des Moines, Iowa. Reynolds lashed out at President Joe Biden Thursday after he ordered his education secretary to explore possible legal action against states that have blocked school mask mandates and other public health measures meant to protect students against COVID-19. Reynolds, a Republican, has signed a bill into law that prohibits school officials from requiring masks, raising concerns as delta variant virus cases climb across the state and schools resume classes soon. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Education Hurricane Ida Deals New Blow to Louisiana Schools Struggling to Reopen
The opening of the school year offered teachers a chance to fully assess the pandemic's effects, only to have students forced out again.
8 min read
Six-year-old Mary-Louise Lacobon sits on a fallen tree beside the remnants of her family's home destroyed by Hurricane Ida, in Dulac, La., on Sept. 4, 2021. Louisiana students, who were back in class after a year and a half of COVID-19 disruptions kept many of them at home, are now missing school again after Hurricane Ida. A quarter-million public school students statewide have no school to report to, though top educators are promising a return is, at most, weeks away, not months.
Six-year-old Mary-Louise Lacobon sits on a fallen tree beside the remnants of her family's home destroyed by Hurricane Ida, in Dulac, La., on Sept. 4, 2021.
John Locher/AP