Thursday, November 8, 2012

What is a teacher's feedback for?

After having a Skype meeting with my tutor and a participant of the course for methodology module, I felt lost. The reason was that my tutor didn't get impressed at all while I was keen on talking about self -theory that explained two types of mindsets. Just before I was going to explain the connection between mindsets and an effective kind of praise, my tutor stopped me and asked me to reconsider the starting point I got for teacher's praises might not be a reason that students feel helplessness at the face of challenging tasks. That comment sounded a brutal rejection of my proposal. 

On the other hand, the other participant in the meeting got very positive feedback from the tutor such as 
"It sounds worth investigating."
"Oh, that sounds intriguing."
where the ones I got were:
"I don't understand what you mean."
"I am not sure if that (praising, my focus) is worth investigating."
"Oh, that is only psychological matter."

The tone of her voice told me that I wasn't even close to meet her expectation. The whole session was unexpectedly upsetting. Ironically, the session proved that teacher's feedback matter to a student a lot. Especially it was the first meeting and I had such an inspiring and motivating tutor in the last module, I was devastated due to the time I might have wasted and the work I need to do ahead. I felt like I was quite close to the goal in a race and one of the judges of the race disqualified me for running off track.
I went to bed feeling absolutely miserable in spite of kind and generous support from my partner. He tried everything he could to cheer me up again. But, as you may know, nothing works when the message receiver is experiencing the helplessness.

This morning, as I saw the sun rising, I got more hopeful mood and started reflecting what exactly happened last night and what I should do from there with a big support from my partner. He listened to every single messy whinging-like mumble just before beginning his very busy day at the breakfast table. I am afraid he couldn't digest all the food at all. As I mumbled away, I felt much better and realized I was in absolutely fixed mindset. Last night I was absolutely in shock at the face of challenges and lost all my motivation because I didn't see the session as a learning process but a painful criticize on my work. Then I realize how arrogant I have been to expect a positive feedback from my tutor and how silly to compare myself to the other participant. As I felt more open to  my partner's advice, I realized that the session was a great learning opportunity for me in many ways:

I can now related to how exactly my students feel when I gave them a negative feedback while giving others positive ones.
I identified my own tendency to fall in the fixed mindset easily as a student.
I can develop my knowledge on praising via reading more literature in order to find better starting point.
I feel more determined to record my class and examine more carefully.
I got better understanding of qualitative research.
I got better idea how I narrow down a general topic to a research topic.
I got better idea where the answer would be in Action Research.

All my puzzles haven't been solved yet but I know where I can go now. It is the kids, the classroom, my home. This whole session turned my enthusiastic pleasant evening into a nightmarish one. But at the same time, it got me back home where I seek the answers for my puzzles. Young learners in various stages in their lives I have met at Sunnyfield English, my home, showed me the way how to talk, learn and grow together in the last decade.  So, I am quite sure they will show me the way on this challenging path as well.

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