These techniques and suggestions for supervising your teacher candidate are designed to be non-judgmental. They are based on a formative assessment we expect to be used by University Supervisors, directing teachers, resident supervisors, and support providers. Non-judgmental feedback means that you give the teacher candidate the evidence you observe during a lesson. You become another set of eyes in the classroom, and the data collected during the lesson becomes a valuable way to review key components of a Teacher Candidate’s teaching.
Your goal as a Directing Teacher/Support Provider is to help your teacher candidate to think in more complex and sophisticated ways about events in his/her classroom and to learn to come up with and implement solutions on his/her own. In order to accomplish this purpose, your relationship with your teacher candidate is most important and you want to act in ways that strengthen, rather than weaken, that relationship. Thus, some of your role is to listen carefully. In addition, some of your role is to acknowledge improvement where you find it.
While supervising your teacher candidate during this assignment, you will find that your techniques and suggestions move from more direct to less direct. We think about these differences in relationship as “initial” and “collaborative.” In the beginning, your teacher candidate will be more like an apprentice than a peer (initial); by the end of the assignment, however, your conversations before and after observing will be more like a conversation between peers (collaborative).
During observation, you are listening and watching carefully while taking notes. Begin with attention to the “basics”: managing student behavior and activities, engaging students, and giving directions.
During the post-observation conference, because your teacher candidates just beginning to teach, you may find that you have many, many suggestions for improvement. You will need to make wise choices among these suggestions and focus on only two or three of most important among them, while praising those things that have been successful or successfully attempted.
The supervision cycle at this level usually consists of (1) a pre-conference, at which the purpose of the lesson is discussed; (2) the observation, when the data is collected, and (3) a post-conference for discussion and feedback about the lesson. Your relationship with your teacher candidates now more peer-like and the responsibility for the conversation is shared.
A. Preparing to Observe -- The Pre-Conference
Before you formally observe and collect data, set up a time for a pre-conference with your Teacher Candidate. At this time, have your teacher candidate share the lesson plan and discuss the objectives of the lesson.
C. Conferring and Giving Feedback -- The Post-Conference
After supervising a specific lesson, you should meet with your teacher candidate to share the data and/or discuss the outcome of the lesson. This is an important opportunity for real learning and reflection on the part of the teacher candidate if the conference is well planned and includes probing questions.
Some questions you might want to ask at a post-conference:
B.1 Avoiding Misunderstandings
Before you give any feedback to your teacher candidate in any conference, you should think about the following questions. The point here is to think about what is important to you and to communicate your ideas to the Teacher Candidate. The teacher candidate deserves to know what to expect regarding your methods of praising and giving feedback. If you were a person who holds-off on praise until the end, that would be important to communicate to avoid frustrations and misunderstanding.
B.2 Asking Questions to Avoid Judgments
Instead of telling the teacher candidate what you think you saw, consider asking the teacher candidate to respond to some questions you ask. This promotes a more reflective dialogue and helps you avoid making judgments. There will be times when you will want to give direct feedback, but if it is mixed with questions, there will be less chance of judgmental comments. A voyage of self-discovery will bring the teacher candidate to new awareness levels about his/her teaching in a more positive manner without jeopardizing self-esteem.
B.3 Sample Agenda for a Post-Conference
B.4 Goal Setting with Your Teacher Candidate
During the conference, jointly select one-three aspects on which your teacher candidate could strive to demonstrate growth. This could be a “recommendation” from you or a goal offered by your Teacher Candidate.