10 Commandments of Constructive Criticism

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).

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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

  1. Constructive criticism is both a positive and negative evaluation.
  2. Constructive criticism is motivated by love for and desire to build up a student.
  3. Constructive criticism is built on a foundation of a previous relationship.
  4. Constructive criticism does not label students. 
  5. Constructive criticism must be designed to fit the individual—one size does not fit all.  
  6. Constructive criticism should be given at the right time and place.
  7. Constructive criticism needs effective interaction.
  8. Constructive criticism offers solutions rather than only identifying problems.
  9. Constructive criticism is calm and caring, not confrontational.
  10. 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?  

You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Edward is the founder and managing editor of Focus on Christian Education. He also serves as the Executive Director of the South Carolina Association of Christian Schools.

Please note: we reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Marcia McConnell

    Students and families are each unique. Therefore the comment to build a relationship with them is very benificial to building up and educating the students in our care.