Since my first opportunities to observe a CELTA tutor giving feedback on teaching practice (TP), I have had the chance to see two other tutors and approaches to feedback. Here is a brief description on the different styles.
Observing and taking notes
The first tutor in question used a similar note-taking approach to that which I had witnessed. He used short sentences in bullet points on the stage/procedure sheet, with brackets around points to consider, and ticks for good points.
The second tutor used longer, more descriptive prose for each stage of the lesson. The advantage of the first is that the observer can take in more of what is happening, while in the second there is perhaps a clearer account of what happened for the trainee to review.
I personally find it quite difficult to write in prose while I’m observing, but I have had difficulty in recalling exactly what happened when giving feedback. See my previous post.
During feedback the first tutor took on a very different approach. In the space between the end of the TP session and giving feedback he typed up some questions for the trainees to discuss. He then monitored while the trainees worked through the questions before giving feedback. He asked for opinions from all the trainees, then from the trainee that had taught the lesson, and finally gave his opinion.
In contrast, the second tutor identified 3 or 4 key points to focus on and wrote them on the white board. The trainees then worked together to add positive and negative aspects to each area. When the trainees had done their best, the tutor asked for opinions from peers before the trainee who had done the TP, and then gave her opinion. This last stage differed to the first tutor’s approach in that the focus was on the key areas rather than the TP as a whole. The tutor explained that less detail is needed as the course progresses and as basic concepts have been assimilated.
I found both these approaches interesting, especially the second, because when I tried to give a full account of the lesson I got a bit lost and ended up repeating myself. So, it was good to see that there isn’t only one way to give feedback.
When it came to my second observed feedback session, I had all these ideas in my head, but I wasn’t sure which approach to use. While I was observing the trainees, I found myself noting down key points for each lesson and trying to make connections between them. After the observations had finished, I asked the trainees to pair up and give feedback to each other while I prepared. This had worked well before with this group to help them formulate ideas and facilitate more active peer feedback.
I had my key points, but I wasn’t sure whether to put them on the board or type them up. As i fumbled with the computer I was aware of the clock ticking and decided to dictate some questions for the trainees. I used a range of questions, some with a comparison between two techniques, such as guided discovering and eliciting. Others were more open, such as what is the most important part of the lesson? I dictated the questions and monitored to gauge the level of reflection and awareness. I then got opinions from the peers and the trainee who had done the TP. Finally, I tried to go through the lessons in detail while referring to the points in the questions.
Feedback on the feedback
I wasn’t really sure what to expect when I received feedback on my feedback session. but it turned out okay in the end 🙂 I had basically combined the parts I liked from three different tutors to create my own style. One interesting point that came up was the fact that I hadn’t used the good-bad-good sandwich technique, where you start and finish on a positive note. The suggested benefit of not using this technique is that the trainee will go away feeling that they need to make an effort to improve. Perhaps finishing on a positive note is more important at the beginning of the course…