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Words that do the most damage

Teachers lead and influence through their words. Words can add and they can subtract. The words that do the most damage are the ones that aren’t spoken when it comes to feedback. I can remember numerous times early in my career when I was hesitant to give feedback that I felt might hurt my student’s confidence. I didn’t want my words harm. Although I avoided giving that feedback, my students weren’t better off. They felt good about their grade, but weren’t aware of how they could grow even more. That was my experience in high school and I struggled in college as a result. Through experience, I had to learn to grow comfortable pressing through and giving my students the feedback that they needed. Here are a few tips that I use to give students feedback that leads to action.

1. Emphasize the positive first

Start by focusing on the victories. Students will warm up to the idea of receiving information that will help them grow if they believe that there is hope for them to improve.

2. Know how your students prefer to receive constructive feedback (In Private or Publicly?)

Some students can handle receiving feedback publicly so that others can hear and some can’t. Through your relationship-building, you will learn the preferences of your students.

3. Offer simple action steps to help them make the adjustments

Feedback should come with simple things that students can do in order to improve. Also, be sure to follow up with students about the actions steps given.

4. Celebrate the next attempt

The opportunity to try again is a blessing. Encourage students change their mindset and get started by going over the top to celebrate their  2nd attempt.


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