Administrators, Instructional Coaches

Helping Teachers Reflect With 4 Simple Strategies

Helping teachers reflect on their practice can be challenging. As a coach, your relationship with the teacher is delicate. Teachers who feel attacked will not want your support, whether attacking was your intention or not. However, teachers who don’t feel challenged or can’t see areas they need to improve in, will not benefit much from your support. After a lesson, day, or unit are good times to stop and think: is this working?

During your feedback meeting with teachers, ask them questions to pull out what they believe are their strengths and weaknesses. If you can get the teacher to name areas they need to work on, then you as the coach can simply support them in their goal.

Questions to Ask:

About a specific lesson or unit

  • How do you feel about this lesson/unit?
  • What do you think went well?
  • How did you expect things to go differently?
  • Where did students struggle?
  • What might you change and do differently next time?

Gagging student progress

  • Did students make progress?
  • Did students make the progress you hoped they would make?
  • How do you know? What information are you using to decide this? (Data/observations/etc)
  • Why do you think that was the outcome?

Identifying student learning

  • What learning gaps do you see across your class?
  • What did you do to address these gaps?
  • Was it effective? How do you know?
  • What could you try next time to address this issue?
  • How could you address the same issue in a different way?

What if a teacher isn’t able to answer these questions and reflect?

I know from experience, it can often be hard for a teacher to point out things that didn’t go well in the lesson. Sometimes this happens simply because the teacher exerts so much thinking to conducting the lesson, they miss out on observing some key things happening in the class. If you find that when you sit down to have reflections with a teacher, they respond with statements such as “The lesson went well.” , “I met my objective”, “Learners understood what I was teaching”, or “I wouldn’t change anything” then I suggest using one of the four simple strategies below to gather more evidence and support deeper reflection with that teacher.

Things to Do:

1.Use a focused observation guide to help you record specific kinds of notes about a lesson the teacher is teaching. Track the number of questions and type of questions the teacher asks. Record how much time they are spending on different tasks. Tally how many students respond/talk during the lesson or any other facet of teaching and learning to help teachers gather information. Need guides? Get them in my data collection packet!

2.Offer to record the teacher teaching a lesson. They can watch it with you or on their own.

3.Help the teacher create and provide students with a survey. Ask them about their experience. Ask questions such as: What didn’t you like about class? What was challenging for you? What should I change?

4.Review student work with the teacher and analyze gaps in learning. Did the students really learn what they teacher wanted them to learn?

When teachers review hard numbers, data and detailed observation notes they have more information from which they can reflect on. Hope this helps!

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