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    Practical Tools for Preservice Teaching ObservationsRichard F. Bowman Jr.Published online: 18 Oct 2012.

    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

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  • Future teachers can benefit

    immeasurablycfi-om a productive

    field experience. A team of the student,

    university supervisor, and cooperating teacher

    can make it happen.

    (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.

    Feedback Strategies For field-experience supervi-

    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

    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-

    Practical Tools for Preservice Teaching Observations by Richard E Bowman Jr.

    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

    discussion on continuous im- provement through assessment? Or simply to reassert authority? Thus, different purposes require very different feedback strategies.

    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-

    poses in giving feedback, and con- sequently we confuse the kind of feedback we are offering. . . and do more harm than good.

    Purposes of Feedback How can supervisors develop

    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-

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  • David Crowe

    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).

    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.

    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.

    Performance, Not Personality Coaching to improve skills

    should focus upon performance

    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

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  • 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).

    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 s