Instructional Feedback & Coaching

"What gets feedback gets better. What gets coached, gets exponentially better."

The goal of any type of instructional feedback or coaching should always be improvement, to help people grow and improve in their craft. Feedback that doesn't improve performance is just a conversation or small-talk. Too often administrators think feedback is primarily corrective and meant for teachers that could use improvement. The truth is that the top teachers in the school want feedback just as much as anyone. The second truth is that quick, concise, positive affirmations or praise not only reinforce the positive actions or behaviors in that classroom, but also spread across the school. The micropolitical and social nature of schools helps this positive affirmation to spread as other teachers want to receive similar praise. Most teachers in every school are doing th every best they can with the tools they have in their toolbox and to the limit of their capacity. The purpose of instructional feedback and coaching is always to support and help teachers grow as professionals, which filters to better instruction for students. There are several keys to giving effective feedback and coaching effectively. These effective practices in giving instructional coaching and feedback ensures that it transforms or improves practice and isn't misconstrued as advice or evaluation.

5 Research-Based Tips for Providing Students with Meaningful Feedback

· Be as Specific as Possible. ...

· The Sooner the Better. ...

· Address the Learner's Advancement Toward a Goal. ...

· Present Feedback Carefully. ...

· Involve Learners in the Process.

Essentials For Effective Instructional Feedback

Productive and effective feedback is just there to be grasped or is provided by another person, helpful feedback is goal-referenced; tangible and transparent; actionable; user-friendly (specific and personalized); timely; ongoing; and consistent. Corrective feedback should include specific and objective evidence, impact, exemplar, and next steps. Positive feedback can be just as powerful, perhaps even more powerful, than corrective feedback.


Effective feedback requires that a person has a goal, takes action to achieve the goal, and receives goal-related information about his or her actions. Information is feedback when it is in an effort to cause something or tells someone if they are on track to achieve a goal. Advice and evaluation fall short on this category.

Tangible and Transparent

Effective feedback involves not only a clear goal, but also tangible results related to the goal. We are all judged by our results and performance. This type of feedback provides checkups along the way. It must also be clear and concise, not wishy-washy or fluffed. It your intent is to improve results, it must be transparent and transparent. The best feedback is so tangible that anyone who has a goal can learn from it.


Effective feedback is concrete, specific, and useful; it provides actionable information. You must be specific with what they did well or need to improve on, leaving them with next steps for improvement. “Good job” or “That was wrong” isn’t actionable. What feedback isn’t specific and actionable, the receiver is must less likely to take the feedback constructively to use it for improvement. You want feedback to be as objective as possible and take as much subjectivity out of it. Feedback about what went right is as important as feedback about what didn't work.


Even if feedback is specific and accurate in the eyes of experts or bystanders, it is not of much value if the user cannot understand it or is overwhelmed by it. Avoid overloading performers with too much or too technical information. It’s more effective to pick out one important thing that either went really well or that if changed could yield positive results. It must be given and received to be effective, especially the second part of being understood and used by the receiver to improve performance.


In most cases, the sooner I get feedback, the better. Feedback that can be given in the classroom during instruction can be highly effective. Be careful to choose a “lull” in the action or a specific time where it doesn’t hinder to take away from instruction. A brief feedback in the hallway or at the end of the class is also a good time for feedback to be timely and it must be concise due to time constraints. That's why it is more precise to say that good feedback is "timely" rather than "immediate."


Adjusting our performance depends on not only receiving feedback but also having opportunities to use it. What makes any assessment in education formative is not merely that it precedes summative assessments, but that the performer has opportunities, if results are less than optimal, to reshape the performance to better achieve the goal. In summative assessment, the feedback comes too late; the performance is over. Thus, the more feedback I can receive in real time, the better my ultimate performance will be. As many coaches would say, "The problem is not making errors; you will all miss many balls in the field, and that's part of learning. The problem is when you don't learn from the errors."


To be useful, feedback must be consistent. Clearly, performers can only adjust their performance successfully if the information fed back to them is stable, accurate, and trustworthy. In education, that means teachers have to be on the same page about what high-quality work is. Even teachers need anchor products or rubrics or exemplars that maintain consistency in expectations of what excellence looks like in every classroom.

"Asking teachers to think about their practice before receiving feedback scratches up the "soil" in the brain so the feedback seeds have a place to settle in and grow." - Jan Chapuis "How am I doing?" in Educational Leadership (Sept. 2012)

1. Instructional coaching is focused on supporting the learning, growth, and achievement of students and is most often linked to a school's improvement priorities.

2. Student-centered or teacher-centered methods of coaching are strategically selected based on individual teacher needs and readiness.

3. Instructional coaching is rooted in relational trust and effective communication.

4. Instructional coaching is most effective when it occurs in cycles.

5. Consistent structures, systems, and internal capacity support instructional coaching.

There are many ways of giving instructional feedback and coaching. Two of the best ways include giving direct feedback in class to the teacher when there is a break in the action, which should be concise and follows the Spencer and Johnson "One-Minute Manager" type model and the second way is to leave instructional feedback with the teacher. One way that has seemed to work well is through using Google forms, which can email the teacher the results instantly and compile data to look at trend data for the school in addition to individual teacher data. It's important that teachers know the rubric or expectations when you will be giving feedback in this manner. One example of a Google form for feedback would be:

"We all need people who will give us feedback. That's how we improve." - Bill Gates