Showing Kindness To Our Teachers- Jennifer Oaten
There is no denying that Australia’s education system is in crisis and that there will be many challenges in the future. Schools are struggling to attract and retain the best teachers. In fact, so many of Australia’s best teachers are leaving the profession, retiring or taking on roles out of the classroom that the country is now facing a teacher shortage.
There is no doubt that teachers have a very demanding and often challenging role. One that is different every day. One that brings many unique individuals with many background stories into their care daily. Some teachers may teach as many as 120 different students in a day. In addition to preparing and delivering engaging lessons, assessments, marking and reporting, they also have many pastoral responsibilities in caring for their students while aiming to cater to each individual. They are also facing increasing responsibility for managing mental health issues and other complex issues. This is in addition to increased compliance training, our staff completes two modules per term, co-curricular commitments, excursions, camps, reflections days and keeping parents informed of their daughter’s progress. Then we have initiatives from our Strategic Plan.
While it is important to recognise the challenges teachers face, we must ensure the incredible work teachers do for our students is appreciated. They are often the first people to identify a child in need, and they play a vital role in shaping and nurturing our young people, the young people who are the future of our society.
In a job that can be so challenging, one way we can support our teachers is by providing them with positive feedback.
One of our key teaching and learning focuses in recent years has been on providing feedback to students to give them confidence and identify what they are doing well and areas for growth. Positive feedback is one of the most effective ways to improve performance and build relationships. It is also an important way to show appreciation for someone’s work. This is part of our efforts to build a culture of kindness and respect at Santa Maria College.
Positive feedback is a powerful tool, but we generally provide negative feedback to our teachers, colleagues, families and children. Why is this? Why do we find it so difficult to give positive feedback? Are we too busy, or do we just not consider it important.
Building a culture of kindness is part of our Mental Health Strategy not only for students but also for staff. This is something we can all strive for – a culture of kindness at Santa Maria College. What does this mean? It means being respectful and considerate to others, despite differences of opinion. It means speaking and acting kindly toward one another and working together to create a positive environment where we share a common goal of achieving the best outcomes for both teachers and students.
As Principal, when I receive positive feedback, it is always shared with staff, or I have a conversation with the staff member because it can significantly impact the individual.
Everyone benefits when we build a culture of kindness at Santa Maria College. Our staff feel appreciated and supported, and our students feel like they belong in a caring, respectful community. Our parents who were part of the Kindness Challenge would know too well the benefits of kindness to not only the person receiving it but also the person showing kindness. This program has shown how kindness can spread through a community.
There are many reasons why positive feedback is so important for teachers. Receiving positive feedback from colleagues, students, or parents can help boost a teacher’s confidence and make them feel appreciated. Positive feedback can motivate teachers to continue growing and learning. Teachers who feel appreciated are more likely to be engaged in their professional development and continually seek ways to improve their practice. This ultimately leads to better outcomes for students.
So let’s commit to being kinder to one another, starting today. Imagine how much better our College would be if every parent acknowledged one teacher. Imagine the positivity this would create between our staff and our parents.
3 Tips on how to provide constructive feedback to teachers
- Be specific about what you liked or appreciated (we can do more of this!)
- Write a handwritten note or card or simply send a short email.
- Talk to the teacher in person.
Thanking teachers for their hard work and dedication is a small but powerful way to show your support and encouragement. There is not a single teacher, leader, parent or student who does not appreciate positive feedback.
It is great for their wellbeing!
Constructive feedback plays an important role in the growth of our College. It helps us to understand where we can improve and may include possible suggestions on how to. However, giving constructive feedback can be difficult and can have unintended outcomes if not carefully crafted.
Emails received late at night that are critical, harsh in tone and include accusing statements can devastate teachers who constantly endeavour to do their best. We are certainly not saying don’t provide constructive feedback, we can always improve, but the delivery is crucial.
4 Tips on how to provide constructive feedback to teachers
Remember constructive feedback should aim to help the teacher understand what your daughter needs to support her learning.
- Ask questions first; sometimes, students don’t provide you with the whole, accurate story.
- Make sure that the feedback is specific and shares your concern.
- Avoid making personal comments or criticisms. These can be very damaging to relationships.
- Be aware of your tone. Keep emotions in check, be respectful and don’t send until the morning when you can re-read before sending.
Providing positive feedback is a great way to show your support for our teachers and help them feel appreciated. Ultimately, by showing your support for teachers, we can help build a culture of kindness and respect at Santa Maria College. It will enable us to retain our excellent teachers and attract excellent staff to the College so that our students are provided with the highest possible standards of teaching and learning.
The best teachers are something we all want for all students, especially our own children.