Effective Feedback in Education: When your peers judge your teaching


I am back to you as I promise in my recent post! Bringing the “effective feedback in education,” that’s a must I felt. I value my promise to readers, you’re my audience. When I promise, I have to grant or honor the promise. That’s me, this is what being a teacher researcher compels to do. What is new, what did “I learn from my previous demo class” at Hebei Foreign Studies University? The different kinds of teacher’s competencies: all of them mattered! Scroll gradually and finish this post, please; otherwise you won’t get my good cake for you! Let’s move! move! move!

Feed back repertoire

Demo debriefing Session

Foreign Teachers’ Feedback: a synopsis of negative aspects

    • Even if you have got to translate Swahili words in English, just use much the foreign language (Swahili) you’re teaching, not English;
    • Don’t teach English just teach Swahili (I remember hearing a bad stress of a word by a student…I got that student to repeat the correct pronunciation!);
    • Use the chalkboard often for your explanation and divide it to give students a chance to see some memorable explanation you’ve given;
    • Avoid using many words at a go (I was fooled by the school guideline to teach/use many words and profess I  used many);
    • Go deep in your explanation: in explaining,  try use words you assume your students know well;
    • PPT not clear: make is visible (my opening slide has many words)

Local/Chinese Teachers’ Feedback: a synopsis of negative aspects

    • Too many words in one PPT slide: Avoid power word, use PowerPoint (the opening slide was stuffy);
    • No culture-related words: language teaching is culture teaching
    • PPT should have column in English: Use two columns for each word Kiswahili and English columns;
    • The use of chalkboard: you should not be cleaning everything, students need to see the new words you write; so leave those new words for a while there;
    • Use a chalkboard for explanation

Positive Feedback 

From Foreign teachers:

  • A step-by-step lesson: well-structured lesson

  • You’re energetic;

  • Classroom voice: you can be heard clearly;

  • Eye contact: you made sure learners looked at you;

  • Communication: you make sure they hear and get you right;

  • You’re passionate;

  • You move in every corner to be sure no distractions are given a room;

  • The lesson really takes teaching into consideration

From Foreign teachers:

  • You’re a relaxed teacher;
  • Energetic teacher
  •   Procedures of a lesson: followed, logical with clear steps;
  •   PPT Design: fine
  • Time management: outstanding;
  • Swahili-English: Translated Method very impressive;
  •  Classroom management: You’re walking to control students’ side actions;
  • You interact well with students

To get the feedback, I consulted block-notes from colleague who took minutes of the debriefing session. Relying on my notes would not have been as effective and trustworthy as those designed to take a written account of the debriefing.

General Appraisals

These are overall value judgement by the school as they were uttered in the debriefing session held straight after my demo class. They then appeared in a minutes published on the school public WeChat post. Here are key-elements:

    • Oscar is an experience teacher;
    • His use of small groups in foreign language lessons is very nice in such big size class;
    • Oscar uses a word teaching (the best word would be “complies” with the school standard that we should be teaching 15-20 words whenever we enter a classroom);
    • Oscar urges students to classify the notes: the best words and what I really did was to see how my students took their own notes===>I care about their journal writing, gave remarks for sentences or series of words without titles;
    • Oscar working attitude is serious and responsible; whenever he teaches, his classroom atmosphere is lively. He also won a general recognition of teachers in our university, and he’s deeply loved by students.

To get a general value judgement of what the three professors who attended my demo class as main assessors, I look at the report published on a WeChat post that was made public after these school authorities followed my demo class.

The different teacher’s competencies were considered

Put more scientifically (in the jargon educational research), the evaluation (value judgment) of my teaching and the criteria used to issue the feedback above was based on a combination of competencies:

1) Personal Competency: “Love by students”, but why? they sought to know whether I’m kind to learners, funny, patient, and helpful;

2) Pedagogical competency: marked by adjectives like energetic, interactive, communicative, etc, the PowerPoint issues, classroom management, “a well-structured lesson,” etc were all considered to issue comment or give overall value about me;

3) Social Competency: “He won a general recognition of teachers in this university.” Humble even when I was helping/sharing with them for mutual empowerment entered into play in ranking me in the classroom;

4) Professional competency: Mastery of what he teaches: there was a colleague teaching the same subject in another department; she’s was there to debunk me in terms of mastery of what I taught. She’s was a right judge in the debriefing session after my demo class.

As you’ve read, there is always something to say when you observe someone teach. I was supposed to give high quality demo class for I did three demo in different settings in the same university. Peers (colleagues)came to observe my lesson and they issued quite effective feedback likely to advance education in some way and I was trustworthy in transcribing them. My intention is to show you that however good you are, you need to learn from colleagues. The good thing with demo classes is that they are career enhancing and push us to lifelong learning.

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