#TipforTuesday: The Importance of Positivity in Reviews
They may be only a small part of the teaching experience at IQBar, but never underestimate the importance of the reviews! Whether you've had an excellent Bready (which 90% of the time we hope you do!) or you've had a student who couldn't concentrate and just wanted to show you his trains, reviews are an important aspect of teaching on IQBar as they help both Buddies and Breadies know where to go from.
Reviews have two functions.
The first is that they help the future Buddy know what needs to be covered in the next session and a little about the Bready.
The second function is for the Bready – each review is sent to the parent so they can see how their daughter or son is progressing and what areas they may need to focus on at home. This information is then relayed back to the student.
This means that it is important to put useful and specific information in the review; it also makes it important to remain positive, even in the face of challenging or struggling students.
Why remain positive? Well, think about when you were at school and it was coming up to parents evening. You might have dreaded it right? What will your teacher say? Will they be positive, or will they say you were lazy/stupid/too shy in class? Each review is like a mini parents evening encounter, and as a child, potentially a mini evaluation of your self-worth. It may sound dramatic, but receiving a review stating:
“Emma was not able to complete any of the activities.”
“Nancy’s pronunciation was bad, so I couldn’t understand her at all this session.”
could very easily knock a child’s confidence. If they think that the teacher is frustrated with their work or imagine that the teacher sees them as stupid it could have a detrimental effect on their confidence and subsequently how they will engage in future sessions. Studies have shown that students who have lost confidence will continue to disengage with lessons, particularly within ESL learning.
On top of this, the review goes directly to their parents who may be upset with the progress of their child, either feeling that the teacher is failing or that their student is not progressing. In China, academic abilities are fundamentally important so this is perhaps more of an issue than it would be in countries such as the UK or South Africa.
So, what should one do if they would like to express their concerns in their student’s behaviour or to pinpoint an area that needs developing?
One way is trying to lighten the wording of your point, and to end it with a positive spin. A good word that can be used in situations such as this is ‘struggling’. Rather than writing
“Emma did not concentrate at all this session”
You could put:
“Emma struggled to engage this session”
“Emma struggled to engage this session, however she still managed to get all the answers correct in the first activity.”
Perhaps if it is a one off event, consider not including it in the review, could she not concentrate in this one session but is normally engaged throughout? Is it a necessary point to make? Something like this may only be useful for the parents to know if it is a repeat occurrence.
If you would like to see how other Buddies have coped with difficult sessions, you can read Amanda’s post about her own experience, or Frank’s piece on ways to manage.
How to structure a review
The IQBar review structure is as follows:
What went well (3-4 points)
Areas that need to be improved on
Any other information – closing comment – eg advice on which slide to carry on from, ‘it was great to see you today. See you next time!’
This is a good example of a review:
I had another fun class with Nancy! She is an intelligent, positive and hard working student.
What went well:
-She reads very well, and had no difficulty with the texts in the presentation.
-She speaks well and was able to hold a simple conversation
-She learned new vocabulary today and could use the words in context
=She completed the final activity unjumbling sentences with ease.
Areas for improvement:
-to remember the correct pronunciation of ‘Vicky’
-to remember the response yes, ‘please’
-to build vocabulary further in this topic
-to improve her use of the past tense.
It was a pleasure to teach Nancy today and I hope to see her again soon!
This of course, is an overall positive session, however it is important to see how the ‘areas for improvement’ are laid out in a way that gives specific areas for the Bready to practice.
Okay, for a difficult session.
Thomas is late. Throughout he’d rather scribble all over the whiteboard than listen to you. He refuses to listen properly to your questions even if they are at the appropriate level and at best, copies what you are saying without any internalisation.
What do you do in the review?
Firstly, take a breath. Think about why he may be behaving that way, is there something happening in his home life maybe? Perhaps his parents have pushed him into taking this class but he really doesn’t want to but there is nothing he can do. Has he had a long and stressful day at school already?
Is it something that has happened before in sessions with him?
Now, think about the review. Was there anything positive that he did during class, any times he got answers correctly?
Here is a way you can review this session.
It was nice to see Thomas again! He struggled to maintain his concentration during the session, however he is a very capable and energetic student. (if this is a repeat occurrence)
What went well:
-He answered my opening questions about how he is and what he likes to do well.
-He correctly identified the activities in the first activity, like ‘reading’ and ‘playing’.
-He has a good, clear pronunciation.
Areas for improvement:
-Thomas should work on his pronunciation of ‘w’ sound, like ‘w’ in ‘William’, ‘whale’ and ‘water’
-He should practice speaking in full sentences. For example ‘I like football’ rather than just ‘football’ as an answer.
-Thomas should practice asking questions, like asking ‘how are you?’ in return.
I look forward to seeing Thomas again. Well done!
If you are really struggling with the student, you can ask for suggestions within the chat groups to see if any other Buddies have had a similar situation and how they dealt with it. Sometimes it can be reassuring knowing others have had a similar experience too. Many Buddies will be able to come up with good ideas with how to help the student.
If there is a safeguarding issue, such as parents arguing in the background or parents hitting the student, please mention this to Sarah or Daniel, rather than putting it in the review or the chatgroup and they will try and resolve the issue with the parent.
The most important message for this post is – remain positive! Be compassionate. Remember, most of the Breadies are children and experience a lot of pressure to excel from a young age. Often the moment you try to empathise with what they could be going through, it will be easier for you to let go of the frustration and help them move forward, or for you to move on to your next Bready!