There is no failure only feedback
Feedback is the nature of the response we get from the class, an individual child, parent, a colleague or the Head. It can be a verbal comment, body language, an email or phone call. The feedback can be directly to you, overheard or passed on to you. The problem is not the feedback itself; the problem is how we react to it. So how can we as teachers improve the nature of the feedback we give?
One of the best ways is to use ‘clean’ language free of generalisations, deletions and distortions.
Words like ‘always’, ‘never’, ‘everyone’, ‘no-one’ are generalisations. They can’t possibly be true and there is richer feedback in looking at the exceptions. Focus on the positive and point out that when they did x the result was excellent rather than the many times they did not and the result was disappointing.
Another classic example of a generalisation is ‘I can’t…’ either verbalised or when the thing they think they ‘can’t do’ is avoided. Some children give up before they start a lesson because they ‘can’t’ do maths. This is a choice we make to ‘not be able to do’ something. It is the same in self-talk. Have you ever thought ‘I can’t teach that class’ or ‘I can’t get this child to listen’ but what if you could?
We need to give detailed examples so children learn from feedback. Simply saying ‘You’ve worked much better this term’ or ‘I’m pleased with your progress’ deletes the important detail about specifics. When giving feedback, be armed with plenty of precise examples to demonstrate the behaviour you want to focus on and encourage.
There are three different ways we can distort communication
- Assumptions – when we assume someone else’s feelings such as ‘You must feel pleased with your test result’. Although it may seem like a reasonable assumption it is more respectful to ask the question. Maybe they were aiming for a higher mark?
- Mind reading – this is predicting the future. An example of this would be saying ‘You’ll do well in your exams’. Again it is better to ask than mind read.
- Cause and effect – no-one can make you feel a particular way. That is your choice alone. Putting the responsibility for your feelings onto a child or a colleague is a distortion. An example of this would be ‘You make me very cross when you talk in the lesson’. Instead own your feelings and say ‘I feel very cross when you talk in the lesson because…..’ and go on to explain why this is.
Judy Bartkowiak is the author of NLP for Teachers available from her shop website and ‘Be a happier parent with NLP’.
You can book an NLP workshop for your teachers,a group of children at your school or a fund raising event by contacting Judy at firstname.lastname@example.org