Feedback

By Scott Knecht It almost seems silly to ask if you want to get better as a teacher. If you don’t seek improvement, what are you doing? Students change, curriculum modifies, technology grows. If you’re not improving with it you are being left behind. I feel contractually obligated to improve and that feels like a healthy thing.

There are lots of ways to seek improvement but one of the best, quickest, and most effective ways is to seek feedback from a trusted colleague. I like the word ‘feedback’ much better than ‘criticism’ or ‘critique’. Feedback implies that someone watches me teach and then reflects back to me what they saw with some possible ways that I might improve. It has to come from a colleague I trust because I have to know that we have mutual respect. It could come from a complete stranger but I would not know if he had an agenda or not. With a trusted colleague I would know that his only goal was to help me improve.

The feedback also has to be based on standards, not just on personal preferences. That way I have something to measure the feedback against. I don’t have to agree with the feedback but I like to know that it’s not just your personal feelings. If I give feedback and say “I just didn’t like that” that is not enough. My liking or disliking has to be linked to an objective measurable standard. That tells us what the ideal is and then we can measure ourselves against that ideal and work towards improvement. If the standard is “I like it” or “I don’t like it” that is just a personal preference.

Even in the best of circumstances the feedback tends to sting a little, but you have to learn to get past that. I once Read More

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