At its best, feedback on our practice can be a north star, or at least a guiding beacon. At its worst, feedback can cause us to conform and derail. Finding the middle ground, where one can listen, reflect, and decide the right course of action is a sacred center. How to find that place? I believe in order to navigate, a beginning teacher must be constantly evaluating and re-evaluating his or her educational philosophy. All teachers have values and principles upon which they daily act. Whether that action is defined and purposeful is an important and shining key.
At the beginning of the school year, as I prepared my classroom 2 days before the start of school, I came across a book titled Teaching with Intention: Defining Beliefs, Aligning Practice, and Taking Action, by Debbie Miller. I knew right away I had found a kindred teaching spirit, as I'm sure countless educators have felt in school years' present and past. My belief is expertly articulated in her narrative, backed up by years of experience. I align her findings as an important foundation in knowing how to receive and use feedback.
Only if we proactively develop our ideas about our core pedagogical philosophies and ideals can we effectively reflect and filter out the bad from the good feedback. If I've learned anything else this year, its the importance of USING feedback, not just receiving, whether from a conference, a colleague, or a student. Strive for reflection and ACTION, not reaction. This is what I mean when I refer to taking feedback by the reins. Take it, and if those words feel steady, flip the wrist, take a ride, and re-evaluate down the path. We may still lose our footing or deter slightly, but it seems a reflective-active feedback cycle can only lead us further down the right path.