The practice of seeking feedback in the classroom is considered as important for any teacher’s professional development – but which school leaders should educators be approaching for feedback?
To find out, the Department of Educational Studies at Belgium’s Ghent University, carried out a social network analysis in the country’s secondary schools in the city of Flanders.
The research team investigated which school leaders are sought out for informal feedback by teachers and what leadership characteristics might influence this choice.
The study looked at data from 436 teachers of 14 secondary schools where the average size of the leadership team was eight – consisting of principals, assistant principals and teacher leaders.
Results indicated that the frequency of teachers’ informal feedback-seeking towards their leadership team was rather low. However, teachers turned the most towards their principals for informal feedback.
“Multilevel regression analyses show that transformational leadership seems to be the most influential characteristic for this choice,” the research team said.
“Instructional leadership is only influential for the informal feedback-seeking from principals, while transformational leadership shows to be important for all three leadership categories [principal, assistant principals and teacher leaders].”
So how should school leaders go about providing transformational feedback to teachers?
Renowned education researcher, Professor John Hattie, is one of the world’s leading authorities when it comes to the effectiveness of classroom feedback.
He says that while there is a wealth of evidence about the positive impact of providing effective feedback, there is very little easy-to-access information for educators on how best to implement it.
“Evidence shows that although feedback is among the major influences, the type of feedback and the way it is given can be differentially effective,” he said.
“A model of feedback is then proposed that identifies the particular properties and circumstances that make it effective, and some typically thorny issues are discussed, including the timing of feedback and the effects of positive and negative feedback.”
Hattie said that by equipping teachers and school leaders with a suite of assets to readily apply best-practice feedback across a school, they can be supported to get the most out of the approach and ensure it has the maximum impact on learning.