As a former principal, it’s easy to understand how dedicated, caring, well intentioned, and passionate teachers are. Teachers truly are some of the best humans I’ve ever met. All that said, teachers still are humans. They make mistakes, need feedback to improve, and a lot of times WANT feedback to improve. Especially during this time of at-home learning, parents may have the most important feedback that needs to be shared.

 

But there may be hesitancy from parents for a variety of reasons. Maybe parents love their child’s teacher and don’t want to seem ungrateful or “mean” during this already stressful time. It could also be that parents don’t know the best way to share feedback with teachers. Or maybe they don’t even have time to think about making the time themselves to send a feedback email to their child’s teacher. 

 

If parents take anything away from this blog post, know that your feedback is extremely valuable. Even if you love your child’s teacher, you have a different perspective that can make the teacher even better. And if you don’t know how to share feedback or don’t have the time, I hope you know that it can be simple and not time-consuming. 

 

We wanted to share an example of how to quickly and effectively share feedback about distance learning to your teacher through an email structure. 

 

The Structure

We’re going to be using an adapted version of the Situation-Behavior-Impact (SBI) feedback model. The model of giving feedback can reduce any feelings of negative emotions to the person receiving feedback and grounds feedback on facts and solutions moving forward. We will adjust it a bit for the context of email and at-home learning.

 

Step 1: Specific Teacher or Class Praise

Starting out with praise during this stressful time can help build a strong relationship with the teacher and remind them that you are on the same team. Behavioral scientists actually study the ideal praise-to-criticism ratio and educators use that ratio in schools. The ideal ratio is 4:1. So for each bit of constructive or negative feedback, there should be a minimum of four positive comments to balance it out. I think this goes for adults, too. So think about ways you can give specific praise to your teacher at the beginning of the email. 

 

For example: 

 

“Hi, Mrs. Richards!

 

Thank you so much for starting to send a daily summary of the things students have to do each day. I’m able to support Addie much easier with your class assignments now that I have a list of everything she needs to get done each day. I really appreciate your organization skills and parental support through at-home learning!”

 

That example highlighted was a really clear and specific “praise” for the teacher about the new daily emails she sends. This praise could be related to some kind of support the teacher gave to your child, a new method of parent communication the teacher is using, a specific class lesson or assignment that your child enjoyed, or another specific thing the teacher implements during at-home learning. 

 

Step 2: Describe the Situation 

 

Be super clear about the situation that you want to give feedback on. Don’t dance around it or try to talk about too many things at once. If you have feedback about a specific assignment, a classroom or school rule, a method of communication…whatever it is that you have feedback about, explain that clearly first. 

 

Here’s an example of how to phrase it: 

 

I wanted to send a note to share some quick feedback about your class rule that students always need to have their video on. This past week, Addie had to do her virtual school from a place that she didn’t feel comfortable showing her video. When she had her video off, you asked her in front of the class to make sure he had her video on.”

 

This is a quick two-sentence explanation of the situation that the parent wants to give feedback on. Feedback could be around assignment deadlines, amount of homework, personal technology usage rules, too much or too little communication, centralized location of assignments, etc. Just clearly state what you are giving feedback about and the specific example with you or your child. 

 

Step 3: Name the Impact

 

This is the time to share your noticings as a parent for how the specific feedback is impacting your child and you. This portion should focus on the “I” and not direct it towards the teacher by using “you” statements. The impact portion of the feedback should al

 

 “I noticed that Addie shut down the rest of the class and has been saying negative things about wanting to go back to virtual class tomorrow. As her mother, it makes me feel sad because she normally loves your class and has been really positive about virtual learning, but I’m seeing a more negative reaction to talking about school. “

 

Step 4: End Your Email with a Question or Potential Solutions

 

Depending on the situation, you could either end with some ideas on solutions or an open-ending, thought-provoking question. If the feedback situation is more tactical (i.e. sending less emails to parents), you could give some ideas on how to consolidate the information. If the feedback situation requires more adaptive change or just a change in their classroom rule structures (i.e. camera on, assignments due every Friday night, etc.), an open-ended question may be a better option. 

 

 “Is there a way to make this video rule a bit more flexible for situations like this?”

 

Step 5: Be Available for Follow-Up

 

End the email with an opportunity for the teacher to ask more clarifying questions or reach out to brainstorm ideas with you. Sometimes teachers like to get parent input when making decisions or give some leeway to specific families that are in certain contexts. Being open to talking more says that you are willing to partner with the teacher and are there to support.

 

Here’s the whole email:

 

 “Hi, Mrs. Richards!

 

Thank you so much for starting to send a daily summary of the things students have to do each day. I’m able to support Addie much easier with your class assignments now that I have a list of everything she needs to get done each day. I really appreciate your organization skills and parental support through at-home learning!

 

I wanted to send a note to share some quick feedback about your class rule that students always need to have their video on. This past week, Addie had to do her virtual school from a place that she didn’t feel comfortable showing her video. When she had her video off, you asked her in front of the class to make sure he had her video on.

 

I noticed that Addie shut down the rest of the class and has been saying negative things about wanting to go back to virtual class tomorrow. As her mother, it makes me feel sad because she normally loves your class and has been really positive about virtual learning, but I’m seeing a more negative reaction to talking about school. 

 

Is there a way to make this video rule a bit more flexible for situations like this? 

 

Please let me know if you’d like to talk more about this via phone or have any thoughts.

 

Thank you!

 

-Amanda Richards (Addie’s Mom)”

 

As parents, don’t be afraid to be “that” parent. Teachers want to hear from parents, especially during this time of remote learning. If this structure doesn’t seem right for you, give your valuable feedback however you can! You are a key to virtual learning success and your voice matters!