Providing Targeted Feedback to Teachers

School leader uses targeted feedback to provide professional support for a teacher and improve the teacherŠ—Ès professional practice.
Made by UW Center for Educational Leadership
Earn Graduate Credit
Graduate-level credit is available for this micro-credential. You can apply for credit through one of our university partners after successfully completing the micro-credential.
Learn More About Graduate Credit

About this Micro-credential

Key Method

The school leader provides feedback based on a targeted focus a teacher and school leader has decided upon. The feedback is a method of professional support that is actionable, evidence-based, and situated within a larger context of professional learning.

Method Components

When school leaders effectively structure their feedback to teachers, they empower teachers to make immediate, specific improvements to their instructional practice. The primary purpose of an ongoing classroom observation is not to judge the quality of teachers, but to find the most effective way to support teachers’ growth. Targeted feedback is a way to support this kind of teacher growth. These are the three characteristics of effective feedback to teachers. When providing feedback, effective leaders:

  1. Situate feedback within a context
  2. Use a strengths-based stance
  3. Share evidence based on teaching practice and student outcome

Situate Feedback within a Context

The most effective feedback for teachers is based on the meaningful interaction between the educator and school leader and among teachers (Fullan, 2013). Targeted feedback is effective when it is situated within a specific context and is in reference to a larger conversation about the teacher’s practice. The feedback is based on a specific area of focus they are working on in relation to the needs of their students. The research on adult learning shows that when teachers have choice and ownership around what specific practice they choose, the more they will implement feedback they are given. When the feedback is not connected to a teacher’s ongoing practice, the teacher cannot move forward in their practice.

Use a Strengths-Based Stance

When a school leader takes a strengths-based stance, they recognize and articulate what the teacher is doing well already, and start from this place to provide feedback. They choose one part of practice to focus on, not several since this is targeted. The feedback is based on what the teacher is on the verge of doing independently and immediately within their practice.

Instead of implying a deficit or corrective perspective that concentrates on what the teacher lacks or should fix, this stance assumes the teacher is capable of improving their instructional practice.

Share Evidence Based on Teaching Practice and Student Outcome

When providing feedback, the school leader can focus the conversation on evidence of student learning, teaching practice and content based on classroom visits. This is a conversation situated in the instructional core. The core looks at different parts of the classroom: what is the task students are asked to do, how is the student’s role changing as the learner, and how is the teacher’s role influencing the student’s role. Research on the instructional core shows that student learning happens when a teacher’s knowledge, skill and content improves (City, Elmore, Fiarman & Teitel, 2009). Targeted feedback is a way to support an increase in a teacher’s knowledge and skill.

Example of a School Leader Using All Three Characteristics to Give Feedback:

This past month, I know you have been working on increasing the rigor of student talk in your classroom when discussing fiction, and you have asked for my support.

Sharing Evidence
I noticed that when you first modeled a “think aloud” of how you found the theme within a passage from the novel and then asked students to model their thinking with each other, three students were able to then model their thinking to their partners in a similar way about another passage. I also noticed you provided a graphic organizer with examples of themes that you and the class have filled out over time, and this resulted in students using these ideas in their conversations. School leader asks the teacher about any reflections they have about their own practice and ideas about next steps in their practice. Based on what the teacher says, the school leader could offer an additional next step.

Strengths-Based Stance
Keep up the intentional work you are doing. For next steps with increasing rigor in student talk, what if you provided the students with sentence stems that could guide them in their conversations about finding the theme within a passage?

Research & Resources

Supporting Research

The following articles support the research on what makes feedback effective. The combination of using a strengths-based stance along with sharing evidence within a larger context is a way to support teachers in improving their practice.


  • Fullan, Michael. (2014), The Principal: Three Keys to Maximizing Impact. Jossey-Bass, San Francisco.
  • Gallimore, R., Ermeling, B. A., Saunders, W. M., & Goldenberg, C. (2009). Moving the learning of teaching closer to practice: Teacher education implications of school-based inquiry teams, Elementary School Journal, 109(5), 537-553.

Strengths-Based Stance

Sharing Evidence of Teaching Practice and Student Outcome

  • City, E.A., Elmore, R.F., Fiarman, S. E. & Teitel, L., Instructional Rounds in Education: A Network Approach to Improving Teaching and Learning. Harvard Education Press, MA, (2009).



  • Austin, S., (2015).ξ “4 Steps of Inquiry that Help Principals Improve Instruction,” University of Washington, Center for Educational Leadership.

Strengths-Based Stance

  • Dweck, Carol (2006). Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. Ballantine Books, New York.
  • Jacob, S. (2015). “What Great Sports Coaches Can Teach Us About Targeted Feedback,” University of Washington, Center for Educational Leadership.

Sharing Evidence

  • McDermott, J. (2015). “3 Important Ways to Connect Teaching Practice to Student Learning,” University of Washington, Center for Educational Leadership.

Submission Requirements

Submission Guidelines & Evaluation Criteria

The items in this following section detail what must be submitted for evaluation. An educator will need to receive a passing evaluation for Part 1 and a “Yes” on all three parts of the rubric for Part 2 to earn the micro-credential.

Part 1. Overview Questions

(500-word limit):

Choose a teacher you would like to work with and give feedback to in order to improve instructional practice. You will provide an overview of the teacher to whom you provided feedback. Answer the following questions.

  • Describe the teacher you worked with. What is the teacher’s focus?
  • What did you observe when you watched this teacher’s practice, related to their focus?
  • What feedback did you provide this teacher and why do you think this was the best feedback to give in order to improve instruction?

Part 2. Work Examples/Artifacts

Please submit a video of you giving feedback to a teacher based on their specific focus.

Except where otherwise noted, this work is licensed under:
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)


Download to access the requirements and scoring guide for this micro-credential.
How to prepare for and earn this micro-credential - in a downloadable PDF document

Ready to get started?