Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Giving Appropriate Constructive Criticism

On the street where you live writing project is an interesting project to follow. The blog states:
"We are going to use the 2 Stars and a Wish system for commenting, in this system you tell the poet 2 things you like about their poem and one thing that you whis they had done.In the comment system in the blog you can use (star) to put a in your comment and (wish) to put in a for example:
I think this is a great way to teach students how to comment on someone’s blog and make constructive comments about other people’s entries. I like the use of the 2 stars 1 wish system. I do a lot of digital scrapbooking and sometimes nice comments just say “Nice work!” or “Good job” but it doesn’t tell me what was good or nice about it. How can I continue to do what is appealing if I don’t know what it is that people like. I also like the wish comments because it might give me new ideas.

When I first started teaching I tried innovative ways to reach my students which was successful. At the time special education was still new and not many people knew how to evaluate a special education teacher. Whenever I was evaluated I looked forward to it (even though I was very nervous) because I hoped to get some constructive criticism about what I was doing. What I found out was that so many evaluators were in awe of special ed teachers that they thought everything I did was wonderful and great! That is not what I wanted or needed to hear. I was a new teacher and I really craved for someone to tell me something that I could do in my classroom. I knew I was doing a good job but I wanted someone to bounce ideas off of and discuss new ideas. For many years I never found that sounding board.

I now contract with the local school district to evaluate new special education teachers and I think this would be helpful in our mentoring program. I really believe this is the kind of feedback that new teachers are searching for. Not only are they searching for it but they really need it. There is a fine line between nasty criticism and really constructive criticism. I think when I talk to new teachers I will focus on at least two things they are doing well before I mention something they could work on. I also will mention that it doesn’t necessarily mean they are wrong but that there may be a different (not better) way that may help meet students’ needs. I don’t profess to know everything but I think as professionals we need to be open to different ways. The new teacher may try my way and decide that the original way is better for that situation or maybe the new way is better. No one would ever know if they never tried.

I think this would also work with experienced teachers if they were open to suggestions and didn’t take the constructive criticism as a slap in the face. We need to continually look for ways to improve our way of teaching and not live with the status quo. Teachers who do not have inferiority complexes tend to be more open to new ideas so I hope that I am one of those teachers. I am always willing to learn and not afraid to try. Sometimes it takes a leap of faith but it may be worth it.


MountainLaurel said...

Great way to make peer criticism concrete. I'll have to try it!

jennylu said...

Some great ideas in this post Pat. I like the method as well. It's given me ideas that i can implement in my classroom. Thanks.
Jenny Luca.

Christine Archer said...

Like that idea. Will definitely steal it :)