Empowering students and lessons in giving constructive feedback
A guest post by Brooke Chaplan
**The Edvocate is pleased to publish guest posts as way to fuel important conversations surrounding P-20 education in America. The opinions contained within guest posts are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of The Edvocate or Dr. Matthew Lynch.**
Students today more than ever before need to be empowered to go on to live effective, successful lives. It is important students of all ages have good examples of learning and education in their lives. They also need constructive feedback from teachers that can help them to mature as learners and as people. As a teacher, you are privileged to be able to give them both.
Begin with a Passion For Teaching
Your love for teaching will be the first thing students notice about you as a teacher. It doesn’t matter if you particularly like an individual subject you may have to teach, although that certainly helps. What students need to see in you is a passion for the art of teaching that will tell them that it is important for them to learn.
If you have a passion to teach, it will be translated to your students in thousands of non-verbal ways throughout your classes. They will see it in your eyes, in the invigorating way you talk about your subjects, and even in your tone of voice. The payback for translating your passion to your students will be that some of them will emulate your example and become teachers themselves. If you can demonstrate the best parts of learning it can inspire others to be lifelong learners themselves.
Personal Interest in Your Students Is Vitally Important
The teachers that make the most significant impression on students are those who take a personal interest in their lives. You may be teaching a very large class of students, where it is difficult to get to know each child individually. Nevertheless, in any class there are those students who stand out to you as either being very talented or very needy. You should invest the time to reach out to both of them, because they both need your help in different ways.
Exceptional students need to be spurred on to greater growth. Take college students aside and encourage them to perhaps pursue and online Master’s in higher education. Talk to younger middle school and elementary school students about honing their talents and finding what they are good at. Help them to find out how they can use their personal talents to pursue the career they were meant for.
Needy students can need a challenge for any number of reasons. You will need to take the time out of your schedule to find out why. Perhaps they have a troubling home situation, or may have cognitive challenges. Unfortunately, many students today have chemical addictions as well. Whatever the reason, attempt to help them and put them on the right path. Even a kind note on an essay can be a good personal notice for more shy students.
Share Your Constructive Criticism When Needed
Constructive criticism always has a positive edge to it. Though it may be initially perceived by the student as being negative, it is intended to correct for greater positive growth. It does not beat down or demoralize. In any class of students, it is sometimes needed.
Constructive criticism is something that should always be shared in private. Begin by telling the student the good things you see about him or her. This will get you started off on the right track. Then tell them what you think is holding them back, and how they can make a positive change. After this is done, reaffirm your confidence in them as an individual. If you share your concerns in the right way, it’s possible that the student will heed your advice. Learning from mistakes and error is one of the most important parts of teaching and learning.
Being a teacher is not an easy job, but the reward is that you are allowed to help students to reach their individual potential as human beings, and see them succeed. With positive feedback and constructive criticism you can help student succeed. It’s up to them as much as you to see where the future can take them.
Brooke Chaplan is a freelance writer and blogger. She lives and works out of her home in Los Lunas, New Mexico. She loves the outdoors and spends most her time hiking, biking and gardening. For more information contact Brooke via Twitter @BrookeChaplan.