Giving Constructive Lesson Feedback

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Beth Hartwell

Beth writes for the Teacher Toolkit site from a secondary perspective. She is currently a Lead Practitioner of Teaching and Learning at a school in York with a specialism of teaching secondary Science. She is currently teaching in a iPad school and is interested sharing...
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Are you a critically reflective teacher?

As educators we talk tirelessly about giving feedback to our students but what is the best way of giving feedback to colleagues at the start of their careers? This post explores about how we must stray away from “what went well” and “even better if” and look into how we use feedback to develop pedagogy effectively.

The most effective feedback allows for the colleague to engage in the conversation and you both construct steps forward together. This can be applied to lessons both above and below the expected standard. Here two feedback models show how to structure these conversations effectively.

Brookfield’s Lenses

Dr Stephen Brookfield suggests that the path to discovering the worth of your teaching is through a process of critical reflection.

He says that critically reflective teacher are excellent teachers who continually hone their personalised “authentic voice”, a “pedagogic rectitude” that reveals the “value and dignity” of the teacher’s work “because now we know what its worth”.

Brookfield says that the goal of the critically reflective teacher is to harvest an increased awareness of pedagogical effectiveness from as many different vantage points as possible. He proposes four lenses that we can look through when engaging in a process of critical reflection:  1) the autobiographical 2) the students’ eyes 3) our colleagues’ experiences and 4) theoretical literature.

1. Lens of their own as a teacher

The teacher reflects of the learning of the class and suggests which aspects were of strength and which need further attention.

2. Lens of the students’ eyes

Include student voice within the discussion and explore the progress of particular pupils and their particular needs.

3. Lens of a colleague’s experience

This is now the opportunity to expand on the points discussed, identify effective pedagogy and raise anything which needs further discussion.

4. Lens of the educational literature

This allows the opportunity to deepen your conversations, link the ideas to educational research. It does not have to be complex or lengthy research;  “What makes great teaching” by Rob Coe et al  is an excellent starting point to look at research in pedagogy. Explore Coe’s six components of great teaching, what was evident? What was missing?

This model model clearly allow the teacher to critically reflect on the lesson and analyse the effectiveness of their pedagogy. This makes a great platform for discussion and is most useful to use with practitioners in the early stages of their career (e.g. PGCE students).

‘Plan-Do-Review’ Cycle

There are many feedback cycles which can be used, I have picked a simple model called plan-do-review. All teachers will do this on a daily basis, but how many times is it used when giving or receiving feedback?

This model looks at how we can act on the feedback within our future planning. It is a clear reflective model which has an impact on future learning and is useful when coaching/mentoring.

  1. Invite the colleague to talk about the planning (plan) and delivery (do) of the lesson first.
  2. Reflection should then be a discussion on the next steps of developing pedagogy and strategies to implement (review).
  3. Conversations should then naturally lead onto the next lessons that they will teach and forward steps (plan).
  4. If you have access to the observing the lesson or IRIS within your school you could see how they have implemented the feedback into the next lessons (do).

If you want more structure, the Driscoll’s model clearly guides the conversations towards next steps. The none abrasive tone of the questions allows for an open discussion with a clear focus going forward. The cyclical notion of the model allows for an impact on future planning.

Using the cycle as a feedback structure can be highly effective. This is a clear model to use when looking at long term planning and clear progression within a colleagues teaching.


Driscoll, J. (2007) Practising Clinical Supervision: A Reflective Approach for Healthcare Professionals. 2nd ed. Edinburgh: Bailliere Tindall Elsevier

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