In the ‘Reflective Learner’ domain of the SECRET Skills framework, the ‘Emotional’ sub-skill is entitled ‘Invite Feedback’. It is interesting at first glance to consider why asking for feedback would be categorised as an emotional skill, but when thinking through times when I myself have received feedback, it doesn’t take long to see that receiving feedback can often be a highly emotionally-charged process. If the feedback is encouraging, you can feel the highest of highs, with feelings of immense pride, satisfaction, relief, and a sense of achievement. Conversely, when the feedback is negative, even when phrased constructively, you can feel disheartened, angry, frustrated, discouraged and sometimes overwhelmed. The Reflective Learner skill, therefore, teaches students the process of learning to ask for feedback, deal with it positively, and cope with setbacks and criticism.
As adults, it is crucial that we model this process for our students. Both as parents and in the workplace, adults usually like to portray the image that we ‘have it all together’, to hide mistakes and our vulnerabilities, and maintain the ‘fake news’ often portrayed on social media that life is all smooth-sailing. However, by taking the time to speak to our children about how we face, and overcome, difficulties, we let our young people know that it is a normal part of life to face speed bumps, and that when we get feedback we don’t like, it doesn’t have to define us, but instead can be a launchpad into future growth and maturity.
Last term, we were very excited to ask our parent, staff and student groups for some feedback about their first term in the VLC. Some of the parent comments that made us particularly proud to be part of this community included: “[My child] has enjoyed being assigned more personalised work”, the “flexibility and the ability to go deeper into topics of interest”, and “seeing my child happy and thriving in this environment”. But as Head of the VLC, these two comments stood out to me: “I am impressed with the responsiveness to feedback and enthusiasm of the teaching staff to make [the] VLC a success”, and “All staff being open to constructive feedback and implementation of changes afterwards” – because, like our students, we are on a continual journey to improve what we are doing, every single day. Education is a partnership between our parents, teachers, and of course, the students, and so it is imperative we work with our parent body to make our VLC a success for many, many years to come.
To find out more about the SECRET Skills, or how you can be part of our VLC community, please contact us here: Contact – Hillcrest Virtual Learning Community (hillcrestvlc.school)
Author: Danni Foster-Brown
Head of Virtual Learning Community
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