Educational Leadership as Influence: The Provision of Critical Teacher Feedback to Students
Effective feedback is regarded as one of the most influential factors in students’ achievement, yet many teachers find themselves unable to meet the demands of providing feedback in secondary school English classes. Teachers recognise the importance of providing effective feedback to students but face circumstances that limit their ability to do so. Therefore, it is important that educational leaders provide teachers with resources and professional development that will enable them to be able to fulfil this crucial aspect of teaching and learning.
This study set out to examine teachers’ perceptions about feedback and the ways in which educational leaders can influence teachers in providing this. The three research questions guiding this study were: What are teachers’ perceptions and understandings of what critical feedback means to students in secondary school English classrooms? What strategies do teachers perceive as important in effectively providing critical feedback to students about their learning? In what ways do educational leaders influence teachers both negatively and positively to provide critical feedback in English? In this qualitative study, 32 secondary school English teachers completed an electronic questionnaire and five participated in semi-structured interviews. The data collected were used to identify the themes and commonalities across the schools.
The findings indicated that there was a general acceptance and awareness amongst teachers that feedback is an influential factor which supports students’ progress. The teachers emphasised that successful feedback can be provided to students if certain conditions exist. These conditions included: building relational trust, having access to professional development and protecting teacher time.
This research emphasises that school leaders need to develop and implement a balanced professional development programme that aids in enhancing teachers’ pedagogy and, as such, improve their self-efficacy. The recommendations arising from this study have implications for schools that include: educational leaders investing resources into a sustainable and effective professional development programme that is differentiated to meet the needs of the teachers. Another recommendation arising from this research is the importance of educational leaders attempting to balance the class size and the administrative responsibilities of teachers; and supporting teachers in developing a sound pedagogy in relation to feedback through developing relational trust with teachers.