[I saw some questions related to observation and feedback on the ELTchat Facebook page and thought it would be easier to blog my answers rather than type them all out there. Below are my responses to the questions, which are in bold. The answers are just my personal thoughts but I hoped they might be helpful.]
I have a question regarding teacher’s evaluation. After formative peer observation, does a teacher who observes the class for learning purposes, have to provide an official feedback about the teacher or the class he /she observes? (when the purpose is to learn from that observation and get acquainted with other methods and strategies during that class )
I don’t really like to think in terms of “have to” or “musts” when it comes to teaching or observations and feedback. That said, I think that there can be some different reasons for observing and different types of feedback (including none) might be a good match for the situation. You mentioned that the purpose of the observation was for a teacher, presumably a new teacher, to “get acquainted with other methods and strategies in the class.” In this case, I would ask what the purpose of the feedback would be? To give the teacher information about their class? It doesn’t sound like it. So, I don’t think that a feedback session for the teacher is a requirement. What might be useful is a chat with the teacher and observer in which the teacher can ask some questions related to the methods and strategies. My thought is that if they were observing with the purpose of learning for their own teaching in mind they would likely not be prepared to offer substantial or useful feedback. Again, for me it comes down to the purpose of the observation.
I get the sense you are not thrilled about getting feedback from the observer. I wonder if there are other reasons behind this?
If yes, does it have to be written or oral feedback discussion?
I don’t think there are any “have tos” (unless someone decides so!) but I don’t think there is a strong rule here. What is best for the people involved? Above I wrote that I don’t think there needs to be any feedback in such situations so the oral/written question migth even be secondary.
One thing I often encourage for my course participants (training to be mentors in their public schools) is that a pre-observation conference/meeting/discussion/check-in/whatever can be really helpful. Perhaps this is a good time to think and talk about these issues. Otherwise we might be left with our own assumptions and our own common sense. Since different people have different common sense talking about if beforehand might be a good idea.
My other thought is a simple one. If someone is doing someone else a favor, I tend to think that the person receiving the favor *should make things as easy as possible for the other person. This means that if I open my class to a visitor I’d expect that person to be a bit flexible about how I like to do things.
Would you please tell me about the post observation, how is it done?
There are many ways to do it! I think this is something that can be negotiated and discussed before.
My personal preferences here (depending on the situation/context of course) are to have the teacher guide things and talk about moments in the lesson or things they are wondering about and would like some information on. Ideally the observer is asked to look for specific things before the lesson. Again in the situation you described it seems that the observer was busy focusing on their own learning and not necessarily the teacher or the the students. I think think this is very reasonable, I just don’t think it places the observer in a good position to share useful feedback with the teacher.
Shouldn’t it be only between the teacher and the observer, and no one else? Can the manager of the center be present during that kind of discussions???
Sorry that all my answers are very similar but I think it could include more than 2 people. I happen to think the conversation might be more productive if the manager is not there (depending on the dynamics) but I think the manager can be there.
Our manager just insists to be present everywhere but I think it should be only between me and my teacher , correct???
I can’t really say what is correct or incorrect. As above, I think things might go more smoothly if the manager is not there. I cannot say the manager should definitely not be there though.
I am worried that my answers are not as helpful as you might have liked. With that in mind I thought I’d share a few related articles/chapters in the hope that they would be helpful.
- This piece on Peer Observation by Jack Richards and Thomas Farrell shares a lot of wisdom.
(The section at the end of the piece entitled “Supporting teachers in implementing peer observation” on page 94 might be helpful for you and others in your teaching context)
- Here is another piece from the same authors on a reflective approach to peer observation.
- Here are some observation guides from the British Council (at the bottom of the link).