As instructional leaders part of our jobs is to get into classrooms, observe teaching and learning and give timely feedback to teachers to create a culture of high expectations and improve student learning.
During observations, should administrators interrupt teachers and provide ‘real-time coaching’ or wait for a post-observation debrief?
According to this study administrators are more inclined to provide real time coaching during short/informal walkthroughs than during formal observations. The study asserts that real time coaching occurs under the following circumstances:
• If admin has an interesting idea or anecdote that will enrich the lesson;
• If admin wants to draw attention to something particularly praiseworthy;
• If the teacher is missing an opportunity to make an important point;
• If some students seem confused and the teacher isn’t noticing;
• If the teacher makes a consequential error (for example, mixing up perimeter and area); or
• If a student’s behavior is seriously disrupting instruction.
This source concludes that real-time coaching has too many pitfalls: “skill threshold is too demanding, the risks of being superficial or getting it wrong too high, the probability
of upsetting and alienating teachers too great, and the chances of not having deeper conversations about teaching and learning too real.”
Whether or not you choose to use real-time coaching as an instructional leader, timely, accurate and useful feedback is crucial after an observation. Short debriefs are recommended as well.
Needless to say, in the event of an emergency situation during an observation intervention is necessary.
(Marshall, Kim. 2015. Should Supervisors Intervene During Classroom Visits. Kappan 2015.)