Finding the Gift in Feedback – An Educator’s Guide to Preserving Your Sanity

Finding the Gift in Feedback indicates that “feedback is information about your behavior or performance that helps you align your actions with your goals.” Educators and students avoid feedback or do not seek it because they perceive feedback as a psychological threat. For that same reason, administrators, teachers, students, parents and friends are all reluctant to give negative feedback. They do not want people to view them as mean, negative, pushy, critical, or bossy. Developing feedback conversation skills matters to everyone who wants to improve relationships, school performance, or personal growth. If you are humble enough to solicit feedback and accept unsolicited feedback, you are more likely to listen, seek new information, ask clarifying questions, and make changes.

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Glenn Cherepovich

The Teacher Becomes the Student—
by LaDawna Cherepovich

My first year of teaching was both exhilarating and stressful. I was eager to teach my kindergarten students new skills, and to
inspire them with the wonder of learning. I was also anxious about the formal evaluations. I wanted my lessons to be educational as well as exciting.

I received positive feedback on the first two lessons the principal evaluated. The third evaluation, a language arts lesson, didn’t go
as well. The principal said the lesson “could have been better,” and shared a list of activities she thought I could have used to
improve it.

For my fourth evaluation the principal asked to see another language arts lesson. I worked hard to incorporate most of her
suggestions from the previous evaluation, and I thought the class went well. I was sorely mistaken! Among other things, my principal wrote that my lesson “lacked depth.” I questioned her about this because I had incorporated many of her ideas from the third evaluation. She then told me that there was “no educational value to the lesson.” I remember going home and stewing over everything she said. How dare she say there was no educational value to my teaching! That’s not true. And what about her inadequacies as a principal. Ranting about her failings just made me angrier, and more determined that I was right, and she was wrong. Most of all, I was afraid. I was afraid that her negative evaluation might cost me my job.
The district policy was that if a teacher disagrees with the evaluator’s finding, the disagreement must be submitted in writing.
So that is exactly what I did. I cited the specific objectives that I covered from the state curriculum. I pointed out that the principal left before I finished the lesson. In addition, I detailed the principal’s suggestions from the previous evaluation that I had incorporated into my lesson. I then took my statement back to the principal to be included with her evaluation.
Later, I talked to a more seasoned teacher about my experience.

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