Thursday, April 7, 2016

Accepting Criticism

In Friends Don't Care... from Sioux's Page, Sioux asks,

How do you handle the suggestions/critique from others?”

This is a two edged sword for me and really difficult to answer.

Accepting criticism from others is really hard for me because I’m such a perfectionist. When someone has criticism, I feel that I’m less than perfect and it upsets me. I don’t like feeling that I didn’t do my best. I tend to withdraw from others and have some hurt feelings but I eventually get over it.

Yet, I want constructive criticism so that I can do better. I want to know ways that I can improve myself, my personal life, and my professional life because let’s face it, no one is perfect. So, once I get over myself, I look objectively at the criticism and try to figure out ways that I can do better.

So, I need to realize that criticism has nothing to do with “doing” my best. I can do my best and still have room for improvement.

I feel that this is what my students struggle with. Many have failed in so much over the years and they see criticism as an attack on them personally. I need to find ways to help them separate their effort and improvement. Sometimes improvement can definitely be affected by their effort but what if they are giving the best they have?

Maybe they are not giving their full effort because they have hit a road block. I need to get past the effort issue and look for the obstacles that may be standing in their way. If I can help the student identify the obstacles, they might be willing to put more effort into the work. Sometimes the unknown obstacles can be scary and cause paralysis in learning. By taking an objective view of the situation, I can help the student face these obstacles.

One of the things I need to be careful about is terminology. I think the word criticism is a negative word and want to avoid that. I like the word “suggestions” that Sioux uses.

I also need to be a good role model by showing students how to handle feedback. One way I do this is by having students evaluate my teaching each quarter and ask them to be completely honest which will not affect their grade in any way. I don’t ask them to do this anonymously because I feel that with criticism, there is responsibility. If you are going to offer criticism, you need to be willing to stand by your statements. I ask them to give specifics such as:
·      What lesson did you enjoy the most?
·      Why did you enjoy it?
·      What lesson did you enjoy the least?
·      What do you think would make that lesson better?
·      How can this teacher help you learn more effectively?

When I get this feedback, I will discuss the results (without using any names) and explain that I will take this seriously. I want to do my best and meet their needs and this will help me. If there are important individual items, I will meet with that student alone to discuss the remarks.

How do you accept criticism? How can you help others accept it? Please share.

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