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.

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Seid
Consultant
Seid

Hello there, most of the colleagues I’ve spoken to are not angry when the student rates them, their teaching method or their internet connection. What makes them angry is that students rate the platform, their own internet connection, the IT support, the materials , noisy background from other students , all with only one rating. Now you could say the consultant should turn of the student’s mic when he\she isn’t speaking and avoid noisy background, but there are 2 problems, 1. kids are able to turn the mic back on themselves and the other problem is as soon as you… Read more »

Oliver Syrett
Consultant
Oliver Syrett

I fully agree with this. The feedback towards the platform should be completely separated from the feedback for the teacher. There is no reason why the teacher should have to suffer from low ratings if the material was not good, the student had IT issues or other students were noisy. I once received a rating of 1 because one of the students had a very noisy background and I told him if he could move to somewhere quiet as the noise was too distracting to the other students. He said he would only listen to not annoy the other students… Read more »

Alina G
Consultant
Alina G

I agree. When I get 4×10 and 1×5, I can hardly believe it is any of my fault but the rating still affects my average.
Also, when I get all praises about my teaching and one complaint about bad internet connection with a rating of 6, there is seriously no way I can believe that I deserved that.

Herschel Thach
Consultant
Herschel Thach

There are many great points brought up in this article. I also believe that some students and teachers don’t click. I have one student that I keep getting that consistently rates me low. The other students rate me with 10’s. I cringe whenever I see his name because I know that I am about to get another low rating. I wish there was a way to request to not teach certain students. It makes me die a little inside when I teach what the other students thinks is a great class and he rates me a 5. 🙁

Diane Fridley
✨Contributor
Diane Fridley

I know the feeling. Some things in life are beyond our control. The only thing we can control is how we react. We can be defeated, or rise to the challenge. In this situation, depending on how many pots of coffee I’ve had, I try to accept the challenge and get a 6 next time instead of a 5 from that student who keeps taking my class but keeps rating me with low ratings, go figure. Keep your chin up and thanks for your comments! 😀

Aisha Chaudhri
Consultant
Aisha Chaudhri

I find the biggest problem is not so much low ratings, but NO ratings. The students say they have had a good lesson and say “Thank you I hope you are my teacher next time” and then no feedback is given. How can we get them to leave the feedback?

Sara Ghanbari
Consultant
Sara Ghanbari

I totally agree with you and other teachers. I’ve had the same experience many times. Ss are happy with my teaching methods and keep saying “I like you”, but nothing you see from them in the feedback report.

Irwin Jeffrey
Consultant
Irwin Jeffrey

Seriously, folks, if the poor feedback is an abnormality, it is a reflection on the student – not the teacher. A bad day, a spousal argument, or a clash of personalities should not invest the student with the authority to sabotage the honest efforts of a teacher who strives to create an informative class (and be suitably rewarded for it). There needs to be some mechanism in the system to mitigate the dismissive rankings of the merely malcontent.

Marta Blanford
Consultant
Marta Blanford

The feedback is often just odd….I have been teaching online for years and i-tutor has the worst system I have ever experienced. Low level group classes are a minefield. I usually don’t look at feedback, I did after reading this: here is a great example: so funny..she gave me a 7, and then complimented me extensively..lol
7
Teaching AttitudeEnthusiasticInterestingEarnestPatient
Time Allocation
Speaking Speed
Teaching TechniqueGood extension on topicExplained difficult wordsSufficient guidanceGives instant correctionLeft necessary notesGood interaction with the student
Connection Status

Michael Maslowski
Consultant
Michael Maslowski

Yes, I had a class of 6 middle aged women at level 2 and three and got several ratings of “too easy” When i was simply teaching the material in front of me. I also got “reading only” even though i remember specifically that I extended the material on each page. Many of these negative ratings feel quite unfair.

Robert Johnson
Consultant
Robert Johnson

Thank you for that….I’ve taken note on a couple of the ideas. I only teach adults and at times it is difficult to get them focus. I hear them multi-tasking while in class; eating, cooking, looking after kids, even (once) in the toilet! (yes, with all those special noises)

T
Consultant
T

This is all great – except when you get a student who isn’t rating based on teaching but based on their mood for that day and the content. We have no control over the content. Ill start by saying that I have 9/10 and 10:10 scores with two scores 8/10. So you can gauge my level of teaching. Here is my example. Student arrives 10 minutes late. I am friendly and ask questions to warm up. From the start is hostile – giving one word answers T -How are you? Ss- Fine. T- What did you do today? Ss-Work. Start… Read more »

Alina G
Consultant
Alina G

Honestly, I would have seriously considered just getting out of the class. I had these types of students before and have thought about just getting out, get an absence, whatever, because it was such a waste of time and not worth it. I didn’t do it but I think I just might next time.

Dru
Consultant
Dru

I’ve also considered the same! I’ve had a student that was not at all interested, giving one word answers and not even trying. I thought about disconnecting from the class part way through as it felt like pulling teeth, But I didn’t. when I saw the 1 rating, I was more annoyed at myself for not going with my gut! But I’m also glad I didn’t do it, it’s my job to teach, regardless of the students mood or behavior, now I just tell myself to suck it up! Sh*t happens! 😉

Robert Peter Mooney
Consultant
Robert Peter Mooney

My personal gripe is a lone low score amongst 10’s with zero comments 🙁

Kay
Consultant
Kay

Great article but not much help to my low rating because ” consultant was wearing headphones ‘ the 2 I got for that meant I did not get my 1000 hour pay raise and it messed up my average so much that I still didnt get a raise this month. Why cant such unfair ratings be erased from our average too?

Jon
Consultant
Jon

Because you didn’t get a raise

Bob. K
Consultant
Bob. K

Thanks and this article is excellent. Although, people say: “that a customer is always right! However, I think that the management should assess students’ average ratings from five different consultants and understand students’ performance, level, and attitude in class. I think that most low ratings usually come from low-level students who can not participate actively in the session.

Karen Selick
Consultant
Karen Selick

The expression “a shot in the arm” is usually used to mean something positive and energizing, not something negative. You may mean that complaints feel like “a kick in the crotch” or a “punch in the stomach”.

Cindy
Consultant
Cindy

Excellent article. Sadly, there are sometimes things that are out of our control. I have at times encountered intentional bad ratings. For instance, a student complained about reading only, even though I know for a fact that I’ve applied various different exercises and asked vocabulary questions throughout the lesson. What should a teacher do in that case? How will recording the session improve my performance in such circumstances?

Diane Fridley
✨Contributor
Diane Fridley

Hi Cindy, I’ve had this happen also many times. You might try ending your lesson by switching your screen to a gif that reminds them to give you a rating. I switch to a gif that says “bye-bye” and hot air balloons taking off, it just ends the lesson with a positive happy thought. It’s an idea 🙂

Sophia
Consultant
Sophia

I remember in my first year reading the feedback was extremely helpful. Especially the complaints. They made me understand that teaching is multitasking and requires all sorts of skills at the same time: Good lighting Smile TPR Eliciting Letting S talk (that’s S for student not S for Sophia 😂) Use props with kids Build rapport Not do reading only Expand on topic Explain words they might not know Etc… So I realized unless I do all of the above there’ll be some student that will say “Didn’t use props”. Thus I started multitasking. This became natural, like driving a… Read more »

Craig Tauterouff
Consultant
Craig Tauterouff

Minecraft⛏️ and PUBG are my go to for boys 5-17. They love both of those games

Shanuda Abadeir
Consultant
Shanuda Abadeir

I love PUBG haha

Graham Coles
Consultant
Graham Coles

I taught English in China for the six years up to August last year – all age groups. I think it is a great idea to try to relate to my adult students when possible, and mentioning at an appropriate place during the lesson that I spent 6 years in China always makes the students interested, and sometimes sparks questions. Depending on the lesson content, I can use one of my experiences in China, or my love of Chinese food, in conversation. At the end of the lesson, I tell them I want to show off my Chinese to them,… Read more »

Simon
Consultant
Simon

Great article and very motivating! In the case that you have a class of six and you are covering a topic that not one of them is interested in… my worry is finding the nearest topic that may interest in them.. will I then get badly rated for not completing all the material which pushes you to want to continue with the set course— the funny thing with the one class was — all highly rated students who can read but can’t even make a conversation- ouch

Tina A
Consultant
Tina A

This has happened to me also, 4 adult level 10 students and the material was about Art of Persuasion. None of the students could even pronounce persuade or knew what the meaning was. At the first page of the material which is usually the warm up page that we are supposed to have a little discussion to recall their pervious knowledge on the topic, none of them could express any thoughts. I had to jump to the third page for the vocabulary and meanings before we could even continue with the rest of the discussion questions in the material, which… Read more »

Ajo
Consultant
Ajo

I can say with confidence my negative ratings are often from students who are inappropriately placed and are frustrated. I feel bad for them because they may not realize what I do.

I’ve had other students who have loved my simplicity to build them up but they had the right attitude for learning. Thankfully my ratings have never affected my pay because the grumpy kiddos were not often. I usually can get anyone to smile!

I wish we had the ability to better inform them.

Carmen Huang
Consultant
Carmen Huang

Very informative. Thank you. I can turn my attitude around.

Sophia
Consultant
Sophia

Agreed ~~

Michelle Brindle
✨Contributor
Michelle Brindle

Great advice ! I often record myself to help improve my teaching. Thanks for all the effort you’ve put into writing this:)

Sophia
Consultant
Sophia

That’s how the best get even better 😁😁

Jen
Consultant
Jen

Would you kindly tell me how to record my session. I think that would be a valuable tool.

Kenneth Shaw
Consultant
Kenneth Shaw

I think sometimes you get a vibe from a group in the first few minutes and that gives you an indication of how well the lesson went and what feedback you will get..

Jacqui De Sousa
Consultant
Jacqui De Sousa

I love all feedback, it helps me be a better teacher. Thank you and so informative!

Andrew Van Ees
Consultant
Andrew Van Ees

Very informative. Thank you.

Roxanne Pillay
Consultant
Roxanne Pillay

Thank you for that . I’ve taken note of a few ideas and will do my be to implement in the next lesson I have.

Eric
Consultant
Eric

This can be good advice. However, my problem with feedback whether it is positive or negative is that there aren’t specific examples of why the student thought this about you. For example: I’ve had 3 students say I was enthusiastic and one who left negative feedback saying the I wasn’t. I would like to see an example from the student of why they thought this. As it is now, the feedback isn’t helpful whether it is positive or negative as they are just blanket statements that we have no idea why the student felt I was helpful or unhelpful, enthusiastic… Read more »

Helen Tatterton
Consultant
Helen Tatterton

Some good advice. What do consultants find is the best way to record the session? I have just purchased an iMac and am still getting used to it.

Shanuda Abadeir
Consultant
Shanuda Abadeir

OBS Studio would work great on the iMac.

Nancy Thompson
Consultant
Nancy Thompson

Put it behind you!

Dwayne
Consultant
Dwayne

Great stuff, thank you.

Shanuda Abadeir
Consultant
Shanuda Abadeir

Great article very informative… i think it’s important to show your own character in class, if you are yourself and teaching to the best of your ability then bad feedback shouldn’t affect it because you know it will be one off… i feel when i am worried about procedure and worried not to mess up i miss the human factor of a class and miss being myself. Show your personality through your teaching.
This is what works for me and helps me keep the frown away.

Alina G
Consultant
Alina G

Yeah, well, say that again after you get a 5 and then only be scheduled one lesson a day for a month.

Diane Fridley
✨Contributor
Diane Fridley

Shanuda, you brought up a great point. Being yourself is how you find your teaching strength. Thanks for your post!

Neetika
Consultant
Neetika

Thanks, taken notes of ideas and will try to use them in class .

Livia Portillo
Consultant
Livia Portillo

Having a bad rating hurts but makes me realized I can improve my teaching methods

Itzel
Consultant
Itzel

Thank you. It is hard sometimes when hoy hace bas ratings. But trying to be positive makes you to make more efforts.

Itzel
Consultant
Itzel

Sorry I said: when you have a bad rating. My phone didn’t spell it well.

Laurice Sabuero
Consultant
Laurice Sabuero

I haven’t realceived any complaints yet, but these are great advice so I could improve my teaching style.

Marva Young
Consultant
Marva Young

Wonderful information

Varvara Abramova
Consultant
Varvara Abramova

Thank you for this useful information!!

Rochell Ramo Cabahug
Consultant
Rochell Ramo Cabahug

Thank you

Lorette
Consultant
Lorette

Very Well written my friend, this is some excellent advice.
Often times we become complacent , but no matter how many qualifications we have there is always room for improvement.
“If you define the problem correctly, you almost have the solution.” – Steve Jobs

Andrea Cecilia Garcia Rivera
Consultant
Andrea Cecilia Garcia Rivera

Yes! Don’t take it personally althoug sometimes it was something we did or didn’t. It helps to be humble and positive!

Daniel Groenewald
Consultant
Daniel Groenewald

Thank you for the great tips.
However, I am a Senior Demo Consultant and often wanter to record my own teaching sessions. Your tips do refer to recording sessions. But you do NOT STATE how to do it.
Please email me the procedure how to record my own demo sessions.

Thank you

TEACHER
Consultant
TEACHER

I think ratings shouldn’t be everyday. I have definitely received low ratings even from regulars when a lesson has a homework assignment attached to the lesson, often students feel like a homework assignment is a punishment over reinforcement, most don’t rate at all for example I can have 10 tens, 2 9’s one 6, but have taught 60 classes ,that’s not an equal measurement on a teacher’s performance when most don’t rate at all, and rating is optional but for us it ensures job security. I think quarterly ratings are fairer than everyday ratings.

Mercy Rivera
Consultant
Mercy Rivera

These are great tips. Thank you.

Dominique
Consultant
Dominique

This article is well put together. Some points to consider-thanks!

Carol
Consultant
Carol

Great points. I need to try and not take bad feedback personally. I seriously loose sleep evaluating the lesson in my mind afterwards.

Ncndovyphw
Consultant
Ncndovyphw