Posted on September 16, 2019 by Marcus Jackson, Ed.D.

When I played high school and college basketball, I was the point guard. This position required me to be the leader on the team. During the game, I corrected mistakes on defense and offense consistently in real-time. I had to correct errors in real-time because I couldn’t wait until a timeout or after the game to adjust. Doing so would have been counterproductive.

Recently, I conducted an observation with the principal, assistant principal, a representative from the department of education, and two education consultants. That’s a lot of people in a classroom and can be a distraction to the teacher and students. According to the assistant principal, this teacher, as many teachers do, gets nervous when visitors are in the room. On this day during observations, this teacher did a great job but skipped over a critical component of the lesson. It was an honest mistake.

BakeThe lesson required the teacher to:

1.) Write the word bake on the board and read it.

2.)  Tell students the vowel sound in bake is /ae/.

3.)  Point out the spelling for the vowel sound in bake is a different kind of spelling – the two letters for the spelling are separated.

4.) Explain to the class that even though the ‘a’ and the ‘e’ in bake are separated, they work together to stand for the /ae/ sound.

5.) Circle each spelling in bake as you say its sound.

Everyone observing caught the error that the teacher missed this section and began documenting, as opposed to reminding her (I gotcha).

Additionally, the error validated the critical mistake by the teacher when students added an ‘e’ at the end of the word rat as they were confused and pronounced it raaaaaat – eeeee. At this point, the observers nodded their heads; YES, and began documenting again (I gotcha again). The teacher adjusted but never went back to the missed portion of the lesson.


During the debriefing, we discussed this mishap for about 15 minutes, when we could’ve intervened for five seconds to support and simply reminded the teacher, that she missed a section, which would’ve helped the students (shame on us). We did nothing but documented and discussed the concern with disbelief. It was an “I gotcha moment.”

The observation bothered me over the weekend. So today the principal will meet with this teacher (second year) who gets rattled when critiqued because she always wants to get it right for her kids. She’s an excellent teacher. However, she’ll be provided feedback today on the error she made on Friday. This error caused a deficiency with her students, and now she has to find time to review, which puts her off pace, which is another “I gotcha moment. ” This is autopsy feedback.

Let’s do away with autopsy feedback and support our teachers and students in real-time during an observation when possible — providing real-time support minimizes errors during instruction and maximizes student learning.