This morning, on a cold, windy and drizzly East Leeds Break-time I stood (avoiding the flying rugby balls, footballs, basketballs and Year 7 students) chatting to a colleague. Her dance group had just performed a practice routine in an assembly ready for their National Final competition on Saturday. The performance wasn’t great and my colleague was keen to articulate this to her troop that the “fire in their bellies” was missing and that the routine needed to improve technically and lacked a certain professionalism – of which is needed to win stuff.
In turns out that the dancers didn’t take this feedback very well, some stormed off in (I what I imagined to be a very elaborate ‘jazz hand’ manner), some were seen crying in the toilets and others refused to take the criticism. My colleague was upset at how her students had dealt with this critique – by all accounts the feedback she gave was to the point and yet very useful in allowing them to understand what they needed to do, both individually and as a group, to get better. And that’s the point isn’t it?
If critique is not helpful – then what’s the point?
If critique doesn’t help the student to improve – then what’s the point?
If students don’t except the critique and aren’t allowed to act on it – then what’s the point?
Critique – it’s a culture thing. It’s not an add-on or an activity, it’s certainly not a once in a blue moon task or something you should do when SLT observe or to be used because people talk about it on twitter. It’s a culture thing, or more specifically it’s often a change in culture thing. My colleague was right to be upset that her students hadn’t taken her critique well and equally perhaps her students were acting completely naturally by feeling upset about receiving it.
If critique is done well and often, it will have a transformational effect on learning. Yes, as teachers we can plan and deliver formal critique workshops for our students – but it’s the informal critique sessions that happen regularly between students that can take critique to the next level. And please don’t think critique is the end of the learning, it’s just the start! Give your students time (yes time – and I don’t want to hear about time being better spent – because I can’t think of anything better) to act on it and use it. My colleague has now set up more rehearsal opportunities and extra assembly performances so that her students can act on her critique.
We need to create classrooms full of editors, scientists, architects, designers, artists, historians, musicians – that willingly critique and see the importance of critique not only for their own work but that of others. What better way is there to teach how to write a great poem or deliver an amazing presentation or perform a fantastic dance routine than by critiquing the student work. Not only will the successes be highlighted and shared but the analysis and improvements required will be highlighted for all to see.
Critique – it’s a culture thing.
Below is the presentation that I delivered on Public Critique at last week’s TeachMeet Clevedon. Thank you to @ICTEvangelist for inviting me to deliver a session – Mark it was a great night and you should feel extremely proud of the legacy you have created at TMClevedon……I’m only saying that so I’ll get invited again next year!! In fact it needs to be pointed out that Mark critiqued my Prezi on numerous occasions and I redrafted it each time and it (hopefully) got better – so the actual presentation is an example of effective critique – cheers Mark!
Also thank you to @AmyG2191 for filming the session – thanks Amy.
Here are the YouTube clips
I have also received fantastic critique from @57Mason @Textilesteacher and @hgaldinoshea this week – thanks guys, I appreciate it……and I also received some top-notch critique from my Mum! Who said I looked “very dapper” but “walked around too much”……..kind, specific and helpful!!!
I would really welcome critique – it’s how I get better.