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Giving feedback to trainee teachers

July 17, 2007

Hello again,

This is the first of two entries about feedback. I am giving some suggestions first on how to give feedback successfully to trainee...

... teachers. As a teacher trainer you need to give feedback in a sensitive and constructive way, keeping the focus on the performance not the person.

Remember that feedback will only be useful if the participants have fully understood the aims of the practice activity from the outset. It is therefore a good idea to explain not only what they have to do but also what elements you will be looking for as marks of their success. Thus, you might clarify a few points for each observed lesson:
• what materials and aids you expect them to use,
• what sort of gestures and eye contact they should be making,
• the speed and clarity of their delivery,
• how they should structure and signpost the lesson sections,
• the appropriate language structures and vocabulary to use for the level being taught.

You might then devise a checklist of all these points that you can use for making notes as they perform. The feedback can then be given privately or to the whole trainee group—this should be agreed beforehand. In this way your response will link back to criteria they were expecting to have to meet.

It is not part of your role to be censorious or disapproving of errors but to point out where the trainees might improve and give them suggestions for doing so. Even if you feel that they are not making a proper effort or are not doing as ell as they might, avoid making judgements. It is ultimately their responsibility to take charge of their learning and you are there to provide the framework that will support them in that aim.

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  1. Bob Toomey Says:


    Once again, Brenda is right on track. I am glad that your brought this information to light. Feedback is not criticism. I have found lots of TESL trained teachers constantly using criticism instead of feedback, as that was the only way they seemed to know how to communicate. Feedback is positive while criticism is negative. No one likes criticism. Feedback is always helpful, and usually on target.

    Brenda's points about how to give feedback are good. I applaud her writing that article.

  1. Marianela Lozano Says:

    Thanks for this e-mail. I agree with you totally, because I observed ESL teachers giving "feedback" to the trainees in front of the whole class, judging, telling what bad they are performing the class. This is so counterproductive and against the principles of teaching and education. Thanks.

  1. Michael Henry Says:

    I found these comments useful. I too have experienced feedback delivered in a very critical manner. I am now mentoring trainees and definately don't want to seem negative or judgemental when i give feedback.

  1. Kevin Morton Says:

    Finally i have found information on how to deal with the task of giving feedback. I've been the administrator for the English department in two schools.Having teachers form around Asia and around the world is tuff to know what people hear when you speak I myself come from India.The above has helped alot. Not only with Teachers but also with students i have found that being positive makes them think and search for thier own mistakes which some do it just to see if you will pick it up. Thank you, thank you thank you.

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