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How to Get Feedback on Your Coaching

Here's an email I received from a coach this week:

I am hoping to give an anonymous survey to the teachers I coach before winter break to allow them to give me feedback on my coaching so far. Do you have a survey like this?

First of all, congratulations to you (email author) as well as to the rest of you who gather feedback on your coaching or want to do so. I recognize that this takes courage because who knows what they'll say?!

Why Get Feedback?
Here are some reasons why you should get feedback from those you coach:

1. It is a way to build trust with them--it communicates that you want to know how they experience your coaching and that you are open to it.
2. It shows that you're a learner, too. Being on the receiving end of coaching can be very scary--you open up your classroom or practice to the eyes of an outsider. It's hard to expose yourself in this way. Communicating that "we're both learners" is really helpful.
3. It models a practice that they might want to do with their students (or whomever they serve).
4. You will learn a lot and be able to improve your coaching.

A Couple Guidelines for Gathering Feedback:

• If possible, allow them to give you anonymous feedback. Survey Monkey is free and easy to use.
• When you invite them to give you feedback (make it optional, of course) lead with something like, "My goal as a coach is to help you refine your teaching so that you can better meet the needs of your students. In order for me to best serve you, it really helps me to hear both what I'm doing well in my coaching and what I can improve. I really, really value your feedback and invite you to share anything you'd like that could help me improve my coaching."
• Ask for it to be submitted by a certain date--but usually try to give people a week or so.

What to Ask:
Here are the questions I ask my clients (or that I've asked teachers who were being coached by coaches that I supervised):

PART 1
Rate the following statements on a scale of 1-5, with 1=strongly disagree, 2=disagree, 3=neutral, 4=agree, 5= strongly agree. (Each question also has a "Comments" option)

1. I feel that my coach has helped me improve my teaching practice.
2. I feel that my coach has helped me make progress towards my professional goals.
3. When my coach has observed me teaching, it has been helpful.
4. My coach provides me with useful resources and materials when I ask for them.
5. I feel that my coach listens to me.
6. I feel that my coach respects me.
7. I trust my coach.

PART 2
8. My coach's strengths are:
9. My coach's areas for growth are:

How to Interpret Responses

While you might get some wonderful, warm feedback, you also might get critical feedback from your coachees. It is really helpful if you have someone you can process the feedback with--both so you can process emotionally and also so you can make sense of what you hear. You might be able to act on the feedback you receive, and you might not (for example, feedback such as, "I am opposed to Common Core and that's what you coach me on and I don't want to do it".) It's just really helpful if you have a coach-colleague with whom you can process.

Try to be open to critical feedback--is there a grain of truth in it? Is there anything you can take away from it? And soak in the positive feedback (which will probably be mostly what you'll get).

When to Gather Feedback

Mid-way through the year is a great time to ask for feedback. It allows you to offer the survey again in the spring and look for your areas of growth. So once you get the feedback, think about how you might be able to use it to guide your own professional growth for the rest of the year. And let your clients know that you're grateful for it and you'll use it to refine your practice.

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The opinions expressed in The Art of Coaching Teachers are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

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