My Process for Providing Feedback Using 5D+

images-1.pngThis is my 4th year using the 5D+ teacher evaluation model with staff. I went to all of the training sessions when our district adopted the model. I spent one summer being trained at MASSP so I could go into other districts to train teachers and administrators on the model. Even with that experience, I am learning new things each year as I work to improve the process of supporting teacher growth.

One of the challenging pieces for me has been to come up with a system, a specific process, for giving teachers written feedback. Here are the steps that I am currently using. Step #5 below is what I’m going to expand upon in this post.

1. Approximately 20-minute observation with a running script.

2. Stay in the classroom to code, notice, and wonder.

3. Stay in the classroom to send the teacher an email about next steps in the observation cycle (The first 3 steps usually take me about 45 minutes).

4. The teacher responds to me electronically within 24 hours to my wonderings. I stress to them that their response should take no more than 10-15 minutes to complete.

5. I provide written feedback to the staff member.

6. We meet in person to discuss the observation.


While all steps hold value in supporting teacher growth, steps #5 and #6 are where the action taken by the administrator can have a significant impact.  I am usually in my office as I complete step #5. Here is what I’m currently doing to provide the teacher with feedback that is most likely to impact their instructional practice.

* Close my office door and block out any interruptions

* Make sure I have the 5D+ instructional framework open and next to me. The vision statements and guiding questions really support my thinking

* I have 4 tabs open on my computer within PIVOT. One is the teacher responses to my wonderings. A second shows the feedback I gave in the previous observation. The third is the teacher’s growth plan and the last is the new feedback I’m about to provide.  I am constantly switching back and forth between those tabs as I decide on what feedback might be in the zone of proximal development for the teacher.

* As far as what I write, here is the format that has worked best for me.

– I thank the teacher for their thinking, reflection, and response

– I share my big takeaways regarding patterns in their overall practice or from this specific lesson. This usually is not tied to their 3-5 areas of focus.

– Finally, I give them 3 pieces of feedback, each tied to an area of focus. Sometimes it’s simply encouraging them to do something that is new to them or they are trying in a new way. It doesn’t always have to be a brand new suggestion or change. Other times it’s a directive and very clear. It could be a question for them to consider or ponder. When I read them back to myself, I always want to be sure they are manageable for the teacher and that I’m able to provide necessary support.

I wanted to take the time to share out some of that thinking and process because it did not come to me naturally. Feel free to call (616-340-9254) or email me ( if I can ever be of assistance as you provide feedback to teachers. I’ve sat next to administrators as they’ve gone through the process of deciding what feedback to write and how to write it. Administrators have also asked me to sit in or film their post-observation meetings. If you have questions, a wonder, or advice on how you think I could improve my practice, feel free to contact me!





“Where Does Average Exist in Your School?”

I am currently reading the book, Culturize, by Jimmy Casas. In the book, Casas asks the question, “Where does average exist in your organization?”  I immediately turned that into, “Where does average exist in our school?”

download-1.jpgWhen I read that question, it stopped me for a moment. I put the book down and thought about it. However, that isn’t a “think for ten seconds and respond type of question.” So, I picked the book up and started reading again. A few hours later, I took to Twitter and posted that question as it was still on my mind and I wanted to hear other opinions. Then, I asked it to our staff in a feedback section of my weekly update. Their responses furthered my curiosity. Now, 6 days later, here I am, and it was the first thing I thought about when I woke up this morning.

My thought process traveled two directions as I tackled this question. First, who wants to be average at anything? Is anyone signing up for the “Average Husband Club?” Do we gush with pride when our daughter tells us how average we’ve been as a father? School is no different. We do our best to share our positive stories and then work on the things we know that need to be improved. But in my 20 years in this profession, I’m not sure I’ve heard anyone say, “We are really average at that.” Should we be saying that?  Would it help for the average in a school to be labeled and understood?  Clearly, the thought of being average is not appealing to most schools or people in

The other thought was, can a school really be great at everything? Is that realistic? Is having things that are average, normal? Isn’t there always going to be some average everywhere? Even if you get 20 things going in the right direction and they all seem great, will they stay great? Will any regress to average? I think that accepting something may be average and naming it as average are NOT the same thing.  

Back to the question, “Where does average exist in our school?”  I feel compelled to do something further to investigate this question as it relates to our school, my work, and even our profession. I’m confident in the way our structure is set up to improve average, but more interested to hear what various stakeholder groups feel like average is. In this case, I’m more interested in naming it and that process, than fixing it. 

1. I feel like there is great value in parents, teachers, and students being posed that question and listening to their responses. I am going to do that formally and informally. There is an honesty, transparency, and vulnerability in asking the question which I believe is an important message to convey. In addition, it’s not just about MY perspective. It’s about OUR perspective. I have already started my list, but it may look very different from someone else’s.

2. In the self-evaluation type of process, I’m hoping to come up with a list or patterns where different stakeholder groups believe our school to be average.

3. Share the list openly and honestly. 

I haven’t been in any organization where average wasn’t alive, somewhere, somehow, and for some amount of time. Thank you Mr. Casas, for asking a question that I think holds great depth and power. It’s not one that had been posed to me before but is one that has really made me reflect, think, plan, and act.  I wonder how other teachers would respond to the question or even the thought of the question, “Where does average exist in our school?”