Coaching: Constructive Debriefing

by | Aug 30, 2018


Providing student feedback is an essential part of a quality educational experience.

How far would students get if they were provided instruction, practiced the skill, but then never received feedback? Consider how frequently students would learn and practice errors. Instructional coaching operates in the same capacity:

Teachers who are constantly learning new educational practices are the teachers who are constantly evolving.

Coaching is much larger than the act of observing and providing feedback:

Coaching is a commitment to producing measurable and sustainable change. To make this feasible, debriefing is a necessity.

Debriefs are follow-ups to observation and coaching sessions that ensure questions are answered, concerns are addressed, goals are identified, a plan of action is clear, and all parties involved are in agreement.

To maximize efficiency debriefs should be held the same day and kept short and sweet.

Building and maintaining confidence should always be one of your goals as an instructional coach.

The purpose of debriefing is to highlight what went well, identify 1-2 measurable goals for improvement, and develop a plan of action to achieve those goals.

As an instructional coach, it is crucial to be prepared for each debriefing session.

This will allow each session to run smoothly and efficiently. It is important to respect and acknowledge the importance of each teacher’s time. This can be done by ensuring that each debriefing session is purposeful and on-point. 

In addition to conducting a purposeful debrief, it is important to ensure that each session is effective and efficient.

An effective debrief accomplishes your objectives.

An efficient debrief is concise, deliberate, and supportive.

Suggested Strategies:

  • Maintain a positive tone
  • Avoid interrupting
  • Paraphrase throughout to demonstrate an understanding and eliminate confusion and/or misinterpretations
  • Use positive language
  • Let data demonstrate areas of deficit
  • Ask questions
  • Be conscious of body language

Coaching is about problem-solving, not pointing fingers. For this reason, it is important to offer flexibility. As an instructional coach, you are there to offer guidance and support—but it is important that the relationship remains mutual throughout the whole process. Being open-minded to suggestions and receptive to feedback can enhance productivity during debriefing sessions.

As a professional in any field, it is important to remember there is always room for growth. Embracing the idea that constructive feedback is not criticism can enhance the coaching experience for all parties involved.