Practical Tools for Preservice Teaching Observations

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<ul><li><p>This article was downloaded by: [Washington University in St Louis]On: 21 December 2014, At: 02:10Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registered office: Mortimer House, 37-41Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK</p><p>Kappa Delta Pi RecordPublication details, including instructions for authors and subscription information:</p><p>Practical Tools for Preservice Teaching ObservationsRichard F. Bowman Jr.Published online: 18 Oct 2012.</p><p>To cite this article: Richard F. Bowman Jr. (2001) Practical Tools for Preservice Teaching Observations, Kappa Delta Pi Record, 37:3,126-128, DOI: 10.1080/00228958.2001.10518482</p><p>To link to this article:</p><p>PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLE</p><p>Taylor &amp; Francis makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of all the information (the Content) contained in thepublications on our platform. However, Taylor &amp; Francis, our agents, and our licensors make no representations orwarranties whatsoever as to the accuracy, completeness, or suitability for any purpose of the Content. Any opinionsand views expressed in this publication are the opinions and views of the authors, and are not the views of or endorsedby Taylor &amp; Francis. The accuracy of the Content should not be relied upon and should be independently verified withprimary sources of information. Taylor and Francis shall not be liable for any losses, actions, claims, proceedings,demands, costs, expenses, damages, and other liabilities whatsoever or howsoever caused arising directly or indirectlyin connection with, in relation to or arising out of the use of the Content.</p><p>This article may be used for research, teaching, and private study purposes. Any substantial or systematicreproduction, redistribution, reselling, loan, sub-licensing, systematic supply, or distribution in any form to anyone isexpressly forbidden. Terms &amp; Conditions of access and use can be found at</p><p></p></li><li><p>Future teachers can benefit </p><p>immeasurablycfi-om a productive </p><p>field experience. A team of the student, </p><p>university supervisor, and cooperating teacher </p><p>can make it happen. </p><p>(1998) contended that part of the reason is that many supervisors are reluctant to provide feedback, es- sentially because they are unclear about their goal or purpose. </p><p>Feedback Strategies For field-experience supervi- </p><p>sors, therefore, clarifying an im- plicit goal is an important step in increasing the potential impact of feedback. That is, what is the pre- cise purpose of the feedback that they wish to give to a preservice teacher? Is it to express apprecia- tion? To probe a questionable teaching practice? To provide a midterm progress report? To focus </p><p>ing observation with specific sug- gestions for sharpening a particu- lar teaching skill. In this instance, the purpose is not to meet a stu- dent teachers emotional need (ap- preciation) but to focus on the preservice teachers performance (coaching). l h e feedback on an interns midterm evaluation, more- over, would likely serve yet a differ- ent purpose: evaluation. I n that in- stance, one would develop and share data related to the student teachers progress in relation to an explicit set of criteria. Fisher and Sharp (1998, 162) pinpointed the ove ra rc h i n g co n ce r n : 0 f t e n we dont think clearly about our pur- </p><p>Practical Tools for Preservice Teaching Observations by Richard E Bowman Jr. </p><p>reservice teachers need all the P constructive feedback and support they can get. Can cooper- ating teachers and university su- pervisors improve their feedback by using a few practical tools? In Getting it Done. Fisher and Sharp (1 998, 159) argued that others are not learning much or getting much support from us because we lack the skill to give feedback well. In- terns in professions like law, ac- counting, and education often ob- serve that they received only minimal feedback, guidance, and appreciation from field-experience supervisors. Fisher and Sharp </p><p>discussion on continuous im- provement through assessment? Or simply to reassert authority? Thus, different purposes require very different feedback strategies. </p><p>To achieve distinct purposes, Fisher and Sharp (1998, 161) rec- ommended that supervisors em- ploy at least three different kinds of feedback: appreciation, coach- ing, and evaluation. At the begin- ning of an internship, for example, a university supervisor might de- sign feedback to increase the con- fidence, enthusiasm, and morale of a preservice teacher. In contrast, one may follow up a formal teach- </p><p>poses in giving feedback, and con- sequently we confuse the kind of feedback we are offering. . . and do more harm than good. </p><p>Purposes of Feedback How can supervisors develop </p><p>the companion skills of identifying their purposes in giving feedback and then offering feedback in an appropriate form? Many of us may recall receiving that first graded paper in Composition 101-the one laced with toxic red ink and a letter grade of 13 or F. Under- standably, the graders extensive corrections and notations were de- </p><p>126 Kappa Delta Pi Record Spring 200 I </p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Was</p><p>hing</p><p>ton </p><p>Uni</p><p>vers</p><p>ity in</p><p> St L</p><p>ouis</p><p>] at</p><p> 02:</p><p>10 2</p><p>1 D</p><p>ecem</p><p>ber </p><p>2014</p></li><li><p>David Crowe </p><p>signed to serve one purpose: feed- back about specific writing behav- iors. But what circumscribed our attention was a letter grade that was clearly designed for a very dif- ferent purpose: to evaluate us. Pointedly, the crosscurrent be- tween the graders dual purposes underscores the need to t ry to separate different kinds of feed- back in tiriie and space. Admittedly, given the constraints of time and distance, a university supervisor may be forced to address two pur- poses in the same sitting. In that situation, the supervisor should signal when moving from one ex- plicit purpose to another (Fisher and Sharp 1998). </p><p>Richard E Bowman JT. is professor of erlitcatiorial foil rirla tioris at Winona State Uniiwsity in Winoria, Minnesota. He is (i nieniber of the Ganiriia Tail Chapter of Kappa Delta Pi. </p><p>Fisher and Sharp (1998) also suggested checking ones purpose with the recipient. For instance, a supervisor might mention to a stu- dent teacher that he or she is will- ing to share suggestions about suc- cessfully starting and concluding a class period and even ask, Would that be helpful to you at this time? Asking permission minimizes the likelihood of the intern becoming startled or defensive at the s u per v i so r s subsequent co m - ments and creates a context for a productive coaching session. Braskamp and Ory (1994, 127-28) underscored the point that users need to determine which feedback evidence will be most credible and useful to them before investing considerable resources in collect- ing it. </p><p>Performance, Not Personality Coaching to improve skills </p><p>should focus upon performance </p><p>and specific behaviors that the preservice teacher can choose to embrace or reject. Brinko (1993, 580) asserted that feedback is most effective when i t focuses upon be- havior rather than on the person. Pinpointing a moderate discrep- ancy between an interns assess- ment of his or her own teaching and that of a coach may serve as a catalyst to improve. The intent in coaching, therefore, is not how to improve the person but rather how to improve the performance of the preservice teacher by considering diverse methods and technologies. Understandably, there will be less emotional resistance if the conver- sation is depersonalized (Fisher and Sharp 1998, 167). To that end, one might well start the conversa- tion with questions designed to discover what the student teacher is trying to accomplish. In tandem, asking a preservice teacher to cri- tique a just-completed lesson often </p><p>Kappa Delta Pi Record Spring 2001 127 </p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Was</p><p>hing</p><p>ton </p><p>Uni</p><p>vers</p><p>ity in</p><p> St L</p><p>ouis</p><p>] at</p><p> 02:</p><p>10 2</p><p>1 D</p><p>ecem</p><p>ber </p><p>2014</p></li><li><p>reveals many of the same concerns that the supervisor planned to share. As a result, the preservice teacher is more likely to alter the behaviors in question, because he or she originated the idea that the supervisor subsequently acknowl- edged. Similarly, if the goal is to as- sist the preservice teacher to alter behavior rather than changing it for him or her, this approach stra- tegically enhances the likelihood of success for all concerned (Fisher and Sharp 1998). </p><p>Keeping a productive focus on performance, instructors may ask, What worked well? and What should be done differently? Em- ploying this technique capitalizes not only on the instructiveness of error but also on the instructive- ness of success. That is, interns are asked to rethink what did not work well and to commit what did work well to their instructional reper- toire. Krisco (1997, 177) contended that the feedback must be bal- anced: Over time, unmixed posi- tive feedback will foster egotism and arrogance, making any future criticism almost impossible to ac- cept and thus limiting growth and development. To ensure balanced feedback, the supervisor can use a simple, three-part process: retain, reduce, and increase. A feedback session might begin with pointing out things that the student teacher is doing well and should be re- tained. Next, the supervisor might identify things that are not going well that should be reduced, and, finally, the things that are going reasonably well but should be increased. </p><p>Less Is More Fisher and Sharp (1998, 171) </p><p>suggested that when giving feed- back orally, it is usually wise to con- </p><p>fine yourself to two or three sug- gestions at the most. Let the re- cipient put them into practice be- fore piling more on. Put baldly, confronting a preservice teacher with a litany of suggestions might well be intimidating, confusing, and ultimately counterproductive. In concert , Fisher and Sharp (1998, 167) cautioned, Remember that you are just one observer, with all your failings and biases. You are not endowed with perfect insight, knowledge, or skill. Thus, to foster the learning-oriented culture of the post-observation conference, one must be willing to surrender the feeling that he or she has all the answers and become more comfortable with, and more capable of, asking questions that do not have easy answers (Senge 1999, 18-19). Those questions might include: How d o yoit think that you did in your teach- ing today? and Is there any- thing that you wish you had hand led d i ffe re n t I y ? </p><p>At the conclusion of a post- observation conference, it is often helpful to reestablish the purpose of feedback from the preservice teachers point of view. Dee Hock, founder of the trillion-dollar VISA International, underscored this point poignantly in his character- ization of an incident from early in his career. A prominent banking executive, at the end of a coaching session, inquired, Dee, did the meeting serve your purpose? A dumbfounded Hock (1999, 130) subsequently observed that the in- quiry served my spirit, my confi- dence, my need for understanding, my belief in humanity, and-well, what didnt i t serve? The inquiry highlights the need for field- experience mentors to be respect- ful, supportive, and empathic. </p><p>Specificity Finally, in working with </p><p>preservice teachers it is important to avoid offering advice that is too global to be genuinely useful. Gen- eral advice is often perceived as a personal indictment, rather than a professional analysis of the be- havior (Fisher and Sharp 1998, 172). Specific advice invites the preservice teacher to share relevant information that could possibly al- ter the original analysis. Sharing specific data, moreover, allows all parties to become partners in en- visioning better teaching practices and enhancing the beginning teachers sense of efficacy. </p><p>In conclusion, the need forco- herent, consistent, knowledgeable coaching, and guidance and sup- port in professional practice is well-documented (Senge 1999,661. Artful coaching, moreover, is more than just providing helpful feed- back. I t reflects a delicate balance of inquiry and advocacy, igniting satisfaction in seeing future teach- ers develop. In tandem, skillful coaching moves comments from the judgmental and ambiguous to the descriptive and specific (Senge 1999, 109). Lastly, feedback shared in an atmosphere of reflec- tive openness provides a context for experimentation, adaptation, and the diffusion of learning across organizational boundaries. </p><p>References Ilraskeiiip. I... i ind 1. Ory. 199.1. Assr~s.\ i i ig/rrcrr I i~ </p><p>it a r k : l</p></li></ul>