Giving and Receiving Feedback, It Will Never Be Easy But It Can Be Better

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I think at times teachers can have a little trouble with receiving and giving feedback. Their feedback skills could be said to need a little practice. I think this is important because as a teacher you will need feedback from your students to tell you if they like your teaching. Also, the students will want feedback on their learning. Each piece of feedback needs a positive, constructive base.

A first reaction, when thinking about feedback, may well be to go on the defensive when it is given. On the defensive, I mean that you are not really listening to the person giving the feedback. The point is feedback is information that can be heard by the receiver as evidenced by the fact that they do not go on the defensive. I agree that feedback has great value but only to us if we can let the feedback in and effectively use it.

There is also ineffective feedback. These are judgmental statements and can upset people. During a reflection, a teacher was told they were talking too much in class but the observer seemed to forget to look at the students who were fine with this talking. Other people said it was a lower level, and the students did not talk much anyway. Would you feel bad for the teacher? Was the observer too opinionated?

Another aspect is getting feedback but not using the experience as a positive move forward. The observer is just making a comment. The teacher needs to ask them such questions as  ‘Why’? and ‘What do you think is better?’ For future actions, a teacher should take the time to realize that they could be wrong and that they should take in the information (feedback) that has been given. They should ask for clarification and realize that it is not a battle, and the comment is to help. They should reply with what they think. Thus hopefully getting a discussion going.

Moreover, the information that is given in the feedback can be shut out. Teachers sometimes lack the skills to send and receive feedback. For example, a teacher thought of a lesson plan idea and mentioned it to another teacher. Basically, they were told that the lesson plan was off-target because the lesson was not student-centred thus in the lesson plan the teacher would speak more which they are not supposed to do. The problem was that the teacher had thought about this lesson for a long time and had it planned. Now the first reaction, when they were told it was off-target, was to get a little angry. They felt as though it was an attack against them personally. Maybe they felt as though they were not good enough; their ideas were not good enough. So, they felt a bit sorry for themselves. One idea could be to say, “shall I forget about that lesson plan?’ and if they said ‘yes’, say to them “what do you think then?” or “how can I develop it?” The teacher could have asked why they thought it was off-course and what ideas the teacher should think of. The teacher should have got to the bottom of their thinking as they might think up another lesson plan like this and have the same trouble again.

In conclusion, a teacher’s acceptance of feedback does not mean that they need to always act on it. The feedback should have been encouraging, helpful, and given with clarity. If so, then the teacher needs to consider the feedback, and decide how, if at all, they wish to act upon it.  This is strictly their choice, but it is important to bring to mind that the person giving the feedback felt strongly enough that they mentioned it. Let’s face it, how would you react in any given feedback situation?

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