Providing Feedback as a Coach

This quarter, as part of my journey through Seattle Pacific University’s Digital Education Leadership program, we are investigating ISTE coaching standards. For this blog post I will be focusing my research on ISTE coaching standard 1: Visionary Leadership and ISTE coaching standard 2: Teaching, Learning, and Assessment.

ITSE Standards for Coaches 1: Visionary Leadership: Technology coaches inspire and participate in the development and implementation of a shared vision for the comprehensive integration of technology to promote excellence and support transformational change throughout the instructional environment.

Indicator: d. Implement strategies for initiating and sustaining technology innovations and manage the change process in schools and classrooms.

ITSE Standards for Coaches 2: Teaching, Leaning, and Assessment: Technology coaches assist teachers in using technology effectively for assessing student learning, differentiating instruction, and providing rigorous, relevant and engaging learning experiences for all students.

Indicator: f. Coach teachers in and model incorporation of research-based best practices in instructional design when planning technology-enhanced learning experience 

My Question

What are the best practices to giving feedback while in a coaching role?  

Background

For this post I am interested in learning ways or strategies that have to do with giving teachers real and helpful feedback without the risk of losing the trusting relationship established. I know individuals tend to take constructive feedback in different ways and I am curious to see what other coaches and professionals have developed that have provided teachers with the feedback they need to hear while continuing a positive collaboration among one another. I also want to investigate the importance behind giving effective feedback and the potential growth feedback has on teachers in the 21st century, where implementing technology is becoming more and more present in the classrooms. 

What is Feedback?

Feedback is information describing how one is doing in their efforts to reach a goal. There are many misconceptions, however, about comments made after a fact being seen as feedback when they actually are not (Wiggins, 2012). If I were to perform a gymnastics routine and my coach praised my balance, focus and/or finish and left it at that, this would simply be praise and nothing more; which if I want to progress towards my goals of being an Olympian, I need more. It is important to note the goal in feedback’s definition. Whether someone likes your act of comedy or hates a short story you wrote is irrelevant unless they provide feedback that promotes growth. Obviously, everyone likes to be told what they’re doing right, but people need to know how to progress even further or whether they should shift directions to achieve the same goal. Because Feedback can appear as a broad term in regards to a person’s criticism, it would be better to break it down into smaller pieces in order to know what effective feedback looks like.

Keys to Effective Feedback

Grant Wiggins discusses the seven keys to effective feedback in an article that I researched. These include goal referenced, tangible/transparent, actionable, user-friendly, timely, ongoing, and consistent (Wiggins, 2012). To summarize, it is important that all feedback utilizes these keys in order to create positive growth for the person receiving it. Making sure that feedback refers to a person’s aspirations while critiquing, assures that the person will make use of said feedback in order to grow. What is important to remember is that feedback should still provide positive and negative criticism. Obviously if someone is doing something that hinders their progress, it should be noted; even though the person may feel hurt because of it. The most important thing to note about feedback is that it is best given when the party possesses a high level of trust (Spencer, 2019). The people you receive criticism from can highly affect how you read it; a trusted family member may seem more honest and respectable than a stranger who comments via Facebook. In fact, trust is potentially the literal foundation as to what types of feedback is most effective.

Greater Trust equals Greater Feedback

Your level of trust with a person will ultimately be the deciding factor of what your feedback means to that person (Spencer, 2019). According to John Spencer’s Feedback and Trust Grid, depending on the spectrum of trust (high to low) and criticism (negative to positive), the person will receive the feedback in four different ways. On the low trust spectrum, you see flattery and hate; regardless of whether there is truth to their criticism, because of the relationship (or lack thereof) they have with that person, they will not grow from the feedback nearly as much as someone with high levels of trust. If, however, someone you trust completely provides criticism (negative or positive), you are more likely to see it as critical feedback or affirmation. Having high levels of trust will make feedback appear more honest and empathetic, driving the person receiving it to take more into consideration from someone who really understands their goals and their abilities to obtain them.

Resources

Spencer, John. (August 13, 2019). Feedback and Trust Grid. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DLhNX-ArJT8&t=62s 

Wiggins, Grant. (September, 2012). Educational Leadership. Retrieved from http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/sept12/vol70/num01/Seven-Keys-to-Effective-Feedback.aspx

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