How to Accept Constructive Feedback When You Are A Student Teacher

Would You Rather Be A Good Teacher or An Outstanding Teacher?
Photo Source: Top Notch Teaching – click photo to go to original link.

I am blessed to have some amazing teachers while on my final prac. Each of my teachers (I have 4) are experts in their teaching areas. They are kind, they are good with their students, they offer me the guidance and direction to prepare my own lessons and they give me good feedback. However, it hasn’t all been good. Here is what I did to handle constructive feedback as a student teacher:

1. Be Open To Feedback

One lesson, my prac teacher was away and I had a supervising teacher to overlook my class. She asked me if I would like some feedback about my teaching, and I welcomed her very openly. I think that all feedback is important to my professional development as a teacher and that it is the only way that I will be able to learn and grow. I am so used to receiving positive feedback, that I was completely shocked when I was given an A4 page of things that I did wrong. I wasn’t expecting that. I didn’t know how to react to it. In fact, I completely disagreed with the feedback that was given to me and I felt like the teacher didn’t genuinely engage in the lesson that I was teaching. I felt like she was telling me that my class was crap and that I would never be as good as a teacher as she is.

It felt like a slap in the face!

2. Take It With A Grain of Salt

She was an older teacher, one of those who has been around a really long time. She seems to be set in her ways and she has a strict definition of what teaching is and how and classroom should be managed. The feedback that she gave me what not about how I could improve, but rather, how my lessons are so different to they way that she would teach her own class.

This teacher really thought that the feedback that she was giving me was helpful (it wasn’t). She thought that my lesson was a disaster (it wasn’t). She thought that I didn’t manage the students effectively (I did). And she thought that the students were not on task with the work that I asked them to do (they were). I completely disagreed with everything that this teacher said to me.

My Desk: Notebook, Apple & Pen
My Desk: Notebook, Apple & Pen

3. Stay Calm

Before I sound like a snobby little prac student… I must say that this feedback was completely different to all of the other teachers that I have ever worked with. If all teachers were telling me the same thing, then I would know that I have a lot of work to do. However, this feedback was different. It was highly negative and irrelevant to me and my teaching performance.

Here is what I did:

  • Shut up and listen to the teacher talk
  • Thank the teacher for the feedback
  • Smile and nod your head
  • Look engaged and pretend that this feedback is really valuable
  • Be respectful and act professional
  • Ask the teacher to write down their feedback on paper so that you can keep it for future reference
  • Take it all with a grain of salt

Here is what I did after the teacher walked out of the room:

  • Shake my head and think OMG who the f#&k is this person?
  • Immediately vent and tell my fellow prac students and close teacher friends what just happened
  • Share the written feedback with my normal prac teachers and ask for their opinions/advice
  • Write all my frustrating thoughts in this blog post (it’s my therapy)

4. Reflect

Great, so now that I have vented my frustrations to the world, I now have time to reflect. Here is a summary of my thoughts:

  • There are some teachers that are still ‘old school’ and set in their ways
  • Always be open to feedback no matter what it is or who it comes from… because you can always learn something from every experience
  • I need to reflect on what I can take something away from this experience
  • I know what my capabilities are as a teacher, I know what I am good at and I know which areas in which I need to improve. The purpose of feedback is to help with this process
  • Know the difference between constructive tips for improvement and a personal attack that is irrelevant to your teaching performance and professional goals

Thank goodness that this teacher is not writing my final report.

I think I would cry.

Now, off to plan another lesson…

3 thoughts on “How to Accept Constructive Feedback When You Are A Student Teacher

  1. This has been an encouraging blog to read. I am a student teacher too and have really struggled with this area of ‘critical feedback’. I found it helpful initally but in the end it just felt like ‘ great! another list of reasons why I’m crap at teaching! Am I never going to get this? unfortunately, weeks on and back at college, I am still struggling to maintain any confidence in my ability to teach, despite coming into the profession with previous experience. You seem to have a very positive, confident and constructive approach to it. I need to develop that too!

    1. Hi Mary,

      Thanks for your inspiring comment! Firstly, let me just say without even knowing you – YOU ARE NOT CRAP AT TEACHING! The simple fact that you have taken the time to search for information, find this blog, comment and then say words like “I need to develop that too” means that you have self awareness and that you are reflective. No teacher is ever perfect. All teachers have room for improvement. Your supervising teachers are not perfect and they definitely have room for improvement. The key point is to continue improving yourself, growing your skills and learn from every experience. This is what will make you a good teacher. Best of luck with your studies!! Be sure to stay in touch.

      1. Thankyou. I didn’t have a good experience on my first teaching practice and am nervous about my next one but I do want to be a good teacher, I think what the whole process has shown me is how much I have to learn about myself as a person, as a student and as a teacher. The difference between the expectations put on how we are supposed to approach teaching children to the one we experience as students is an oxymoron. Still I am learning and gradually beginning to build my confidence up again.I do know what sort of a teacher I want to be. Thank you for your encouragement.

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