The following suggestions are offered to guide the educator needing to offer constructive criticism to students, co-workers, or employees. Because most educators seem to not enjoy an activity that feels confrontational, constructive criticism is often avoided to the detriment of the student(s).
I remember jotting some notes down from a small pamphlet that I used to receive (The Master Teacher) more than two decades back about this topic. I have modified my thoughts over the years and offer them now as
10 Commandments for Constructive Criticism
- Constructive criticism is both a positive and negative evaluation.
- Constructive criticism is motivated by love for and desire to build up a student.
- Constructive criticism is built on a foundation of a previous relationship.
- Constructive criticism does not label students.
- Constructive criticism must be designed to fit the individual—one size does not fit all.
- Constructive criticism should be given at the right time and place.
- Constructive criticism needs effective interaction.
- Constructive criticism offers solutions rather than only identifying problems.
- Constructive criticism is calm and caring, not confrontational.
- Constructive criticism assumes an ongoing relationship that will continue to nurture.
Successful teachers learn quickly that the privilege of criticism must be earned; a student must trust a teacher before criticism is accepted. Successful teachers come to understand that the ability to teach requires the ability to critique, both positively and negatively.
So, effective teachers are either building a trust relationship so that criticism is accepted or they have already established a trust relationship and are using criticism to advance student learning.
Perhaps you have another commandment that fits here; please share it with us. Or, maybe you disagree with one of listed above; please “critique” the list.
How have you learned to effectively use criticism in your teaching?
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