Student Teachers · Supervising Teachers

A Positive Outlook

I just completed my third and final practicum (yay!) and I was lucky to have a great colleague teacher who took the time to note down both positive comments and things that I could improve on. While sometimes it can be difficult to hear the things you could have done better, particularly during prac which can be quite a stressful time, it is important to take it on as constructive criticism.

After all, in my eyes we have two options:

  1. disregard the feedback and carry on as before
  2. take a positive attitude and create goals to be achieved directly from the feedback

What have you done in the past?

I took the second option and really tried to turn the cons into specific goals that I could work towards throughout the rest of my prac. I believe I consistently improved as a direct result of the specific goals that I created from the feedback and the support from my colleague teacher. Now that prac is over, I intend to continue working to achieve my goals and continue to set new ones.

If you’re a teacher who takes on student teachers, provide constructive feedback and set goals for your student to work towards. Prac can be a stressful time and it is important to provide positive feedback as well as noting improvements that could be made. Positive feedback allows the student to know what they are doing well and provides them with confidence, while turning the cons into goals provides the student with specific things to work towards.

As teachers, we need to be constantly reflecting on our teaching and continually finding ways to improve. My uni supervisor left me with some simple, yet wise words about teachers that really rings true; “when you think you know it all, then you should leave.” We can never know it all, nor do we have to, we just need to keep reflecting on our teaching and make improvements and adjustments where necessary in order to continue working towards being the best teacher that we can be. Setting goals to be achieved based on reflections and/or the advice of others can help us to do exactly that.

However, this approach can even stretch far beyond teachers and the classroom. We could apply this approach to our daily lives if we continually reflect on the choices we make and the actions we choose. We can create goals for ourselves to achieve in order to be the best that we can be. Wouldn’t the world be a great place if everyone lived by this notion?

Do you take this approach?

What strategies have you seen work well between a colleague teacher and a student teacher?

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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6 thoughts on “A Positive Outlook

  1. I think feedback is something that we don’t invite enough of – but like you say, if you can be humble enough to really heed the feedback and use it to create goals then it goes from being criticism to being the most powerful tool for professional development. Often I have not been aware of things I do – or don’t do – until someone else has pointed it out to me.

    The Mentor-Student teacher thing is great for that. It’s a shame that once we become teachers there is often nobody there to give us that feedback (at least not in such a formal way). Some teachers can teach for a decade or more, completely oblivious to glaring flaws in their practice that would be easy to fix, if only they knew!

    I have always found the best way to get really useful feedback is to invite it from my students. To ensure honesty in their responses, I need to make the process truly anonymous – which is an adrenaline rush, because sometimes I’m not sure I’m going to like what I read! But on the other hand, when I put my pride aside and really listen to their feedback, it has been very powerful, and a great opportunity to improve what I do.

    I used to ask for student feedback at the end of a semester/year – but have found that it’s much more valuable to do this early in the year. Malcolm Gladwell argues that kids’ impressions of a teacher don’t change much after their first few minutes with a teacher! – If that is true, then it’s hard to see any advantage of waiting a whole term or semester before asking for feedback!

    For example, I discovered from one such survey, that I was being perceived to “ignore” a group of shy girls in the class. They thought I didn’t like them!! In my mind I had been sparing them embarrassment – by deliberately NOT focussing the class’ attention on them! How wrong I was! Fortunately I had invited that feedback early in the year – and could fix what i was doing before it was too late for that cohort.

    Sorry for the length of this comment… haha it could have been a blog post of it’s own!

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    1. Hi Andrew,

      Haha, don’t apologise for the length of your comment – it’s great! You’re right, feedback is something that isn’t given out enough. Perhaps it is because people don’t take it well or people are afraid of how people will take it! You are so right in saying that we don’t realise we are doing certain things until they are pointed out to us.

      That’s really great that you seek feedback from your students and that it has been beneficial. I also think it is important to ask for feedback in the beginning, that way you can work towards fixing it! I hope more people follow in your footsteps to seek feedback and welcome it.

      Thanks,

      Ashley

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  2. I am just popping in to applaud and congratulate you on what you are doing here. You are using the available tools so well. Keep striving and keep applying all these wonderful things.

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  3. Nice job here, Ashley. I’ve just had a third year praccy in Canberra (my first in 12 years of teaching) and it was a difficult process. I think my praccy left with the same outlook as your post, but I’m not sure. You sound like you have ‘got it together’ and I applaud your efforts and your thinking.
    Keep thinking. Keep open to change and improvement. Keep blogging and keep learning. You’re doing great.

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    1. Hi Richard,

      Thanks for your encouragement! Hopefully your next experience with a student teacher will be a more positive experience. I will definitely continue thinking and being open to change, improvement and learning.

      Ashley

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