Cultivating Curious Minds Blog

This blog on the Cultivating Curious Minds website provides information, strategies technology tools, and resources for educators on increasing innovation in the classroom, international education, and effective professional development

Giving and Receiving Constructive Criticism

Tweet: Meaningful feedback is the root of professional growth and personal development.

Meaningful feedback is the root of professional growth and personal development.

Individuals who actively look for areas of improvement and view failures as a component of growth can be viewed as having a growth mindset. However, despite our best intentions, we do not always respond positively to feedback.

One of the most challenging things for us as humans is to receive criticism. And although well-intentioned, "constructive" criticism may not always be perceived as constructive.

Arguably, one of the most important roles we play as educators is providing constructive feedback in order to help our students improve. However, if we ourselves do not respond positively to feedback, how can we provide impactful feedback to others?

Learning to respond well to feedback

Firstly, in order to improve our own response to criticism, we must first be able to differentiate between constructive and destructive criticism.

Constructive criticism comes from a place of attempting to help point out your mistakes WITH THE OBJECTIVE of helping you improve. Destructive criticism, in contrast, can be a result of insensitivity or potentially maliciousness with the objective and outcome of impacting your self-esteem and confidence.

When feeling attacked or criticised, ask yourself the following questions: 

What was the intent of the person's criticism? Who is the person providing the criticism and do they have insight into this issue? Is this something I can improve upon?

Remember that sometimes criticism can be well-intentioned but may come from a place of ignorance. It is important to respond calmly and reflect prior to providing a reactive response.

Creating a Classroom Culture of Postive Feedback and Growth Mindset

In order to help students understand the importance of feedback, you must first create a culture of Growth Mindset by instilling in students a desire to learn, establishing trust, and teaching and modeling to students that failure is a part of the learning process.

When giving feedback yourself follow the following guidelines:

  • Focus on behavior or improvable skills rather than on personality traits
  • Provide feedback in a timely manner
  • Try to provide feedback that is specific as possible with suggestions for improvement
  • Choose to give feedback at an appropriate time. When a student is feeling particularly angry or frustrated, that is likely not the ideal time to provide feedback. Wait until the student has calmed down prior to providing feedback.
  • Langauge is important. Choose words such as learning and growth in lieu of words such as failure.

Do you have any experiences that resonate with you regarding giving an receiving constructive criticism? Please comment below :)