Feedback is the breakfast of champions

Giving feedback correctly - for teachers; Learning from feedback - for students; personal experience - Natalia Oblogova;


How do you like to receive feedback? Is there a wrong way to give it? There are different types and methods of doing this and choosing the proper one may do half of the job, whereas the wrong one may cause even more problems. Giving feedback is very closely related to correcting mistakes and they always go hand in hand. We have already looked at different types of mistakes and the ways we correct them, so now let’s look at feedback. 

Feedback is related to evaluation and acknowledgement. We evaluate what students do and say and often unconsciously, just by saying “good” or nodding in agreement to what they say. We acknowledge their success and failures. 

Here are some tips on giving the feedback correctly:

Do not overpraise

If you praise your students too often and too enthusiastically the words may lose their meaning. People want to hear it when there is good reason, otherwise your praise will sound fake and have no effect. 

Do not focus on the negative

Drawing attention to areas that need improvement is important but it is also necessary to show what the student is doing right. Constantly hearing what you are doing wrong may also demotivate greatly. 

Find the balance

There is a technique of giving feedback often used in the American culture - you squeeze negative feedback between positive one. They are often reluctant to criticise and may even find it rude so they try to wrap it into praise. However this may lead to an unexpected outcome when your student thinks they are doing great and does not see what you want them to work on. Take your students’ culture and personal preferences into account and try to work out the right balance between praise and criticism.

Do not point fingers

When doing an open-class feedback it can be prudent to avoid focusing on who made mistakes. Rather discuss the problems together as a class and ask random students to do corrections or reformulate sentences. The students who made a mistake are likely to recognise it and pay attention to the correction.

Use different ways

Sometimes it is better to give open class feedback, other times you can allow your students to work on it in pairs. 

Do not forget about content

Many teachers focus solely on accuracy completely neglecting the content. If you were doing a fluency task it is crucial to give content-based feedback before you discuss the mistakes.

Delay feedback

If your students are engaged in authentic social communication do not provide feedback on the spot, but after the discussion is over. It may be necessary to completely ignore some mistakes, but rather talk about ideas and the way they managed to convey them.  


Stacey Lastoe developed an article on how not to take the feedback personally and get the most of it for career, studies and relationships. Here are some tips that might be useful in case of negative feedback:

1. Embrace the Opportunity

When someone provides you with tough feedback, if a project isn’t received with the enthusiasm you expected, or your review didn’t go as planned, you should take the opportunity to get curious and view the situation as ‘good friction.’ In fact, you should seek this friction out whenever you can. Feedback, even that which you don’t agree with or didn’t invite, is where growth, development, and breakthroughs happen. Instead of taking something personally, ask yourself what you can learn from the situation. Don’t forget that diamonds are formed under pressure. Their beauty comes from friction. This can be the same for you in your position and career.

2. Remind Yourself You Don’t Have the Full Picture

You never know who just came back from a funeral. It’s morbid, but it’s also true. People’s lives are complex and multi-dimensional, and with the ever-increasing demands on our time and schedules, people are often racing from one thing to another without much time to process emotions they may be experiencing. So that dazed look someone’s giving you in a meeting? It may have nothing to do with you. Think about how often you meet with someone when you’re distracted by an unpleasant conversation with your boyfriend or an annoying one with your landlord. That quizzical, disappointed, maybe even pissed-off look you’re giving off actually has nothing to do with the person sitting across from you, right? So the next time you’re on the receiving end of one of those looks, don’t assume it’s about you. Instead, remind yourself that you never know who just came back from a funeral.

3. Pause for a Moment

One of my favorite quotes is ‘Take criticism seriously, but not personally.’ Oftentimes we have a quick, emotional reaction to feedback from colleagues, and that makes the situation worse. I would encourage you to pause for a minute and think if there’s anything you can learn from what they’re saying. If there is, use the feedback to your advantage. If not, don’t give it another thought.

4. Distract Yourself

First, you need to be aware of your vulnerability to this feeling and remind yourself in a kind way—perhaps with a smile—here it goes again. And, before your emotions spins out of control, ask yourself what value there is in feeling this way? Is it meaningful in the long term? Most likely, it’ll be easy to see that it’s not. Once you consider the situation and your reaction, distract yourself by doing something that you know makes you feel good. Call or text your best friend, watch a funny YouTube video, or go buy yourself an iced coffee. If you can get away from the moment and get it off your mind, you’ll feel better and be able to get on with your day.

5. Remember—It’s Just Not About You

Understand that in most cases it’s not about you. People are busy managing competing priorities and an influx of emails. If you’ve received troubling feedback or a mind-boggling email that has you doubting yourself big-time, schedule a follow-up email or phone call. Be polite and to the point and adapt your approach to the person you’re working with. What does he have on his plate? What is her preferred method and style of communication? Find a way to get feedback that’ll help you grow, not shrink.

You can read the full article here.


Give meaningful and constructive feedback

I’ve been teaching ESL over 18 years, passed CELTA, DELTA and IH Teachers Trainer Certificate, I’ve collected some approaches to feedback in classroom that might be useful for educators:

at the end of any significant pair or group work activity, give feedback:

- on content, not only the mistakes they’ve made. Respond to how clearly they expressed their ideas, that you can relate, you find their story amazing, things like that;

- on their performance, the effort they have put into their work, how well they participated, how well they interacted with each other in the activity;

- any positive changes that you have spotted;

- point out any small changes, for example, that some fossilized mistake has been eradicated;

- what they need to do to perform better next time;

- highlight their strengths.

Very often feedback is seen as being identical with correction, i.e. telling people what they got wrong. However, most people expect to be praised and are motivated by positive feedback. It is important for learners to see their progress and to be aware of what they are doing right. In addition, if you begin with positive feedback, you create a climate in which constructive correction can be more readily accepted.

The ideas above will also help to give feedback in case of a poor performance.

That’s all for now!
Stay amazing ❤