Feedback. We know it’s important, we know it’s needed; but when it’s not positive, we don’t want to give it and we certainly don’t want to receive it.
Years ago, I heard the phrase “Feedback is a gift”. It was during a time in my teaching career where teachers in my school were taking it upon themselves to visit each other in the classroom and observe each other’s practice – to learn from each other and to give each other feedback.
We all loved getting the compliments and the positive comments.
The negative ones?
Not so much.
But that was where the learning was and where the most value was – someone has taken the time to be honest. It’s uncomfortable for everyone, and it’s easier not to do it. If someone is taking the initiative to give me “negative feedback”, for my own benefit, I should respect that and listen up.
As teachers we need to be open to feedback – we are getting it every day! From students, parents, colleagues, inspectors or mentors. By being open, it doesn’t mean that we automatically agree – it means that we will listen and consider it.
Here are some pointers for managing negative feedback.
We need to rephrase the negative feedback as “constructive feedback”.
Because that is what it is, or what it should be – constructive.
None of us are perfect.
This type of feedback should highlight something that you may not be aware of and by making you aware will help you in doing the best job that you can.
This is a positive thing.
2. Stay Calm
Depending on the tone of communication, body language, personality and relationship you have with the person giving you feedback, it might be difficult to get past the emotions you are feeling and your perception of how it is being communicated to you.
Take a breath.
Listen to what is being said as rationally as you can.
If you feel like this is something you cannot do, you should re-arrange another time to continue the conversation when you are calm.
3. Take Notes
Write down what the problem is and what solutions or strategies the person is suggesting to you.
This will focus the conversation and allow you to recap at the end of the discussion and reflect at a later stage.
This will also help you to focus if you are feeling emotionally charged at what is being said.
4. Ask Questions
Find out exactly what the person wants or needs from you.
Depending on what the issue is, this can often be some small adjustment.
Whatever the issue is, it is vital that you are crystal clear on what steps you need to take to fix it.
If the feedback is constructive, the person should be able to answer your questions and make suggestions for improvement.
Communicate with the person how you feel about what he or she is saying. If you disagree, share this in a calm manner. Open up the conversation so you can have dialogue around what has been said.
If you agree, share this too and let the person know how they might best support you if you are struggling.
6. Be Grateful
Nobody likes having difficult conversations – it is extremely uncomfortable for most of us and we will avoid these situations as much as possible. Whatever your thoughts are about what has been said, this person has taken the initiative to address an issue they think is important enough to be said.
It’s a win-win.
As upsetting as a conversation like this may (or may not) be, we should try to be grateful when people give us the gift of feedback.
We hope this article was helpful.
NQT Picnic is a specially designed online event for NQT’s in July 2022.
It is a daunting experience starting your very first teaching position – whether it is subbing or your own post! College seems like a long time ago now and you may be starting to feel a tad nervous.
Following the huge success of NQT Fest & Picnic in 2021, we are delighted to share this special event for NQT’s in July 2022 with you!
Free Resource for Teachers – End of School Year Activities!
What an exciting time of the year! Your main lessons and topics are complete and the pupils are getting excited for their summer holidays. It can be a challenging time to keep pupils engaged in classroom lessons due to exciting events on the horizon like school tours or sports days, so I like to keep things light and fun and still try to ensure the learning is taking place.
Ciara McGuane is the Summer Course Director for Rahoo.ie.
Her career highlights include being filmed by BBC London teaching in the classroom and guest-lecturing at the Institute of Education in London. She has worked as a teacher, school leader, teacher trainer and initial teacher training tutor prior to setting up Rahoo.
This is always a hot topic for teachers and so important to get it right.
Here are some mistakes that teachers have shared with us when they did our EPV Summer Course on Classroom Management with Niamh Byrne, Irish Primary Teacher.
We have dipped in and out of the CPD course to learn what to do instead!
Why do we remember the words of lyrics we haven’t heard in years? Why do some experiences stick in our heads more than others? Something made them memorable!
Make your lessons stick by trying to make some aspect of it different. This could be as simple as playing music (we have played classical music when students were working independently in the past) or hooking them into the lesson with mystery tasks or controversial questions that spark debate.
When planning ask yourself: What can I do to make this lesson memorable?