Constructive Criticism

As humans, we don’t get everything right, and we don’t always have the answers right away. At Wright Academics, we think it’s important to model these concepts for our students. What’s important isn’t necessarily the mistake, but what we do after the mistake. How do we respond? Do we fall apart? Get defensive? Blame others? Or take responsibility and use our mistakes as a springboard? Receiving constructive criticism and recognizing areas of improvement are crucial to becoming a better human, student, and leader.

The Springboard

As the director of Wright Academics, constructive criticism is the spark I use to improve our programs. I often ask myself, How can I be more deliberate and intentional? How can I become a better leader for our team? I like to see mistakes or challenges as positive opportunities for growth. I go deep into discovering what I can learn from an experience and what lessons I can take with me on my journey. That’s why, as a company, we seek honest feedback from our families and students. We want to serve our families in the most applicable, tangible ways, so we search for input in order to become better. We strive to do everything with excellence, and we encourage our students to do the same. Whether they receive a disappointing grade, frustrating report card, or critical comment, we seek to teach our students the art of turning feedback into constructive change.

With Students

Often when students receive critical feedback, they tend to shut down. In these scenarios, we encourage our students to take a deep breath, step back, and evaluate what happened. We always start with a positive. For example, if a student got a 50% on a test, we point out they got 50% of the questions correct. Then, we look at what mistakes they made and why. Maybe they made simple mistakes on a math quiz like not paying attention to a sign or getting a multiplication fact wrong which impacted the rest of the problem. This shows us the student understood the process but made small mistakes along the way. We then ask the student what they think would help them correct these mistakes in the future and try to illicit some ideas from the student themselves. A helpful practice might be highlighting math signs or putting a box around them. The color helps the signs pop and the box draws the eye towards the sign.

One of our tutors in the office always has their student check their work, and she times them. Often, checking their work takes less than 30 seconds, and they find small mistakes. This tutor does this exercise to show students that checking their work doesn’t take a long time and will save them points in the long run. We also show students how to check their work. Often, parents and teachers assume students know what checking their work means, and they don’t. This leads to dread and resistance which could easily save students points on a test or quiz.

Being Open

Because we’re built on relationship, we believe the best model for teaching students how to accept constructive criticism is by sharing what’s going on in our lives too. We find when we communicate well with them, they are more receptive. So many of our students struggle with perfectionism and anxiety, so it’s really important to model grace well and give students examples of when we experienced an opportunity for growth. We also acknowledge and validate the fact that growth often feels uncomfortable. Constructive criticism can be hard to see and hear, but it is often for our benefit. It helps us and our students to develop deeper resilience and embrace the fact that it’s okay to make mistakes. 

I firmly believe that the mark of a good company, employee, student, or leader is someone who takes experiences and learns from them, even if you have to keep learning from them multiple times. We hope you acknowledge and embrace feedback this week as you go about navigating the season you’re in!

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About Evelyn Wright

Evelyn Wright is the Director of Wright Academics, a tutoring business created to target kids’ specific needs. Her passion is helping students and families succeed so that they achieve their maximum potential in and out of the classroom.

With over 25 years of experience working with children and their families in public and private schools, as well as in private practice, Evelyn’s focus is understanding the individual’s learning profile, guiding families of children with learning differences and matching students to the tutor or coach that best fits the student. She believes in not only matching educational needs to the right tutor’s skills, but matching a student to the tutor with the right personality.