Turn that frown upside down (Uhhhh receiving negative feedback again?!!）
Imagine you worked hard to prepare a meal for a friend, or your family and it took hours to prepare. You finally arrive at dinner time and everything is exquisite. Your meal has cooked to perfection and the presentation is beautiful. You invite your family in to eat, expecting to hear gasps of delight and maybe a “wow” or two. They just sit down to eat in silence. There was no feedback good or bad.
This would be awful right?
When you look at your feedback report you are probably like me and enjoy getting praise for hard work. Feedback helps us know what we are doing right, and when you are doing something not so right.
Some common complaints that students have in junior and adult classes are reading only, noisy background (from other students) or the speaking time was not equal. They are the same common complaints. That means I need to really try to improve in these areas.
Don’t take it personally
Complaints sometimes feel like an arrow to the heart. Sometimes complaints seem unfair. For example, if you have noisy background from other students you can’t just ask them to have lessons at home instead of at a restaurant. Another example, if you have a student that is reluctant to speak during their turn, you can’t just make them speak as much as other students during their turn. Remember, the feedback isn’t something to hurt your feelings. They just want you to know something wasn’t up to par in this one lesson.
How do I fix it?
So, now I’ve got a complaint, what am I going to do? You can ignore the complaint; you can become angry for something you think is unfair or you can use this feedback to improve. When you improve, you get more clients, better ratings, and more money$$. Option three sounds like a winner! You can actually start to look forward to complaints, ok, maybe not. There are great examples to improve after receiving a complaint in the training portal. Try out their tips and find what works for you. Soon, you will find that frown turned upside down.
Find your niche
Where do you start? One of the best tools I have ever used is recording my classes. When I look at what the student sees, I can notice areas to improve my teaching. Watch yourself teaching, what did you like? What do you want to improve? What are your strengths? Finding your own online teaching “niche” is an important part of your career development.
Put it into practice
I got a complaint about speaking time from a class of 6 adults. When I have a large class like that, I take notes of the names of my students and build a speaking chart. I can be sure I get to each person in class the same number of times, or as close as possible. Students vary in how much they will speak after being given the opportunity. What can I do? Here’s an idea, if you are giving the same opportunities to each student but they still don’t have equal speaking time, you may have to get creative with your questioning. My favorite questions to get more details are “Why?” “How?” “When?” “Where?” “Who?”
Another complaint was a noisy background, caused by other students in a class. What can I do? There were babies crying, dishes banging, and I’m pretty sure someone was learning to play the piano. Click that mute button as much as needed. No one has ever complained about me muting a noisy student. Many students take class during a busy schedule, they understand when you need to mute to ensure the best experience for everyone.
What about Junior students?
Sometimes junior students are just taking an English class because mom requires it. Do your best to build rapport. First thing is to use their name. Can’t pronounce it? Learn! Ask the student the correct pronunciation. Another idea is to listen to and observe the student, not just what they are saying. If the junior student has the camera on, notice pictures, toys, or other clues that will tell you what interests them and then use that as a bridge to teach. They want a class that is interesting and relevant and have a little fun learning.
Make class interesting
When you are committed to learning about what really interests a student, you will be amazed! When students are engaged, they are learning! Humor is a great tool to arouse interest in a young student that may not like English class or may just be tired from the mountains of homework they just finished. If a student is not interested in your lesson, it is part of your challenge to find what they ARE interested. You have a student that loves animals, but their lesson is phonics. Do a quick search to find animals with the whatever sound you are learning. It just takes seconds during the lesson and – BOOM! Your class just got captivating!
Avoid reading only!
Often, your students seem distracted or just completely ignoring you. They may be distracted with many responsibilities. Let the challenge to engage your student begin. Maybe they are tired of reading or listening. So, take turns asking questions. Be sure to let them ask questions as well. Find a way to integrate the lesson content into a discussion. Use the pictures within the lesson to add interest. Play a word game with lesson vocabulary. Games are a great way to make your class engaging and fun while still reaching class objectives. Think outside the slide while you engage your students in learning. There are loads of resources for ESL teachers that have already been created and available to you with a click of a button.
Now, that you have a few ideas to start with, what is your next step?
What will YOU do to improve?
—- By Diane F.