Teachers at more advanced levels of proficiency are generally very proud of their practice, and may have been asked to serve as a mentor for student teachers or interns. With such experience, it’s easy to perceive feedback as disrespectful if it’s not delivered carefully.
On a short walkthrough, it’s not uncommon for a principal to leave feedback that fails to take into account the instruction that took place before or after the observation, and it’s easy to come to snap judgments in order to find something to write down.
One way to avoid this trap is to provide low-inference feedback – to describe what is taking place without drawing conclusions about it, then to ask open-ended questions to prompt further thinking. For example, if you observe that students are completing worksheets, and it seems to you that the task is not very engaging or rigorous, you might provide provide feedback as follows:
Students are working independently on practice sheets, while teacher circulates to answer questions and check for understanding.
Questions for reflection: In addition to personal effort, what factors determine the level of benefit students derive from written work?
This question focuses the teacher’s attention on the task’s level of cognitive demand, but without a judgment such as “This doesn’t seem very rigorous.”