By: Mary Ware for LearnWell
Just as students rely on the feedback from their teachers to grow and develop in their confidence and skill, teachers also need to have effective feedback from valued members of their team and those in leadership positions above them. Personally engaging in the content of a classroom, observing the interaction between staff and students, and seeing first hand how a teacher uses their skills and experience to impact the lives of their students is an important part of an administrator’s role. In fact, ensuring quality instruction and a safe, supportive classroom environment may be argued as one of the most important jobs principals and other academic program administrators have on their plates.
How can one provide effective feedback—and what indeed makes feedback effective—is a question that many school or education leaders find themselves facing. In a hospital teaching environment, where the school program administrator could be anyone from a program manager to a hospital CEO, providing quality feedback may prove challenging, depending on the amount of time available to observe and interact with teacher, or the background and experience of the program administrator and their familiarity with curriculum, educator feedback methods, and professional development.
Here are a few suggestions, extrapolated from Michael DiPaola’s work on Effective Leadership, to help bring effective communication and feedback to hospital teachers.
- Understand the reasoning and power behind feedback
Just as any employee benefits from hearing both positive comments and constructive feedback in relation to their job performance, so too do teachers. Helping teachers identify problem areas, discussing creative solutions, and highlighting their successes in the classroom and with students helps foster an environment of support and trust, and strengthens an educator’s confidence in their own work with students.
- Create a system for frequent formative feedback
Formative educator feedback takes into account student learning objectives and teacher performance towards meeting those objectives. Some of the main components of formative feedback include:
- It provides opportunity for reflection by the teacher on his/her impact on student learning.
- Occurs over the course of time through frequent discussions.
- Is evidence based—it allows for the collection of data and evidence that points to completion of goals.
- Is not based simply on a system of supervision & evaluation (rather, uses observations and evidence to generate discussions about performance and what to try next).
- Adjusting effective feedback practices for hospital teaching environments
In a hospital educational environment, the student data, goals, and outcomes are very different from a standard school environment, and therefore, the expectations of teachers are different as well. The idea of providing effective feedback through a formative process can still be applied however, taking into account that there will be differences in application.
It is important to determine what the goals and expectations are for hospital teachers and ensure that these are clearly communicated to the team. Examples may include:
- Prompt communication with school districts for approval and schoolwork.
- Adherence to a student’s school work load and provision of other grade appropriate curriculum if work is not available.
- Creation of a safe and respectful classroom environment.
- Completion of paperwork in a timely fashion.
- Attendance at team meetings or treatment team discussions.
- Respectful and appropriate communication with family members, doctors, and other members of the team.
In all of these areas, teachers should be able to provide evidence of how they are meeting expectations, though some may need direction initially. Evidence of such practices may include data on student attendance/hours instructed, call logs and documentation of school/parent interactions, sample student files showing how school work and administrative paperwork is maintained, and discussion around individual student-patients and how teachers both overcame challenges and found success to meet the student’s needs.
As a team leader, the feedback that program or hospital administrators or others in supervisory positions can provide to teachers is invaluable. By taking note of common educational feedback practices and adjusting based on the needs of the facility, leadership can ensure high-quality hospital educational programming and a team of teachers who are both committed to the task at hand and who feel supported in doing so.
For more information on how LearnWell helps our partners manage their academic programs and teaching teams, please contact us today.