Whoever ignores instruction despises himself, but he who listens to reproof gains intelligence. Proverbs 15:32, ESV
I clearly remember the first time I was called into the principal’s office, not as a student, but as a teacher sometime in October during my first year of teaching. I’d probably been there many times before that for various reasons, but this was the first time the conversation was taking a not-so-wonderful direction. Apparently, I hadn’t been doing the best job of keeping my class in line. I guess I knew I was struggling, but hearing it from the principal was still not fun. If I remember correctly, I barely held it together until I made it to my car when the tears started falling.
Since then, I have had many conversations with my administration. Some consisted of kudos and congratulations, and others featured a critique of the amount of homework I gave, my grading methods, or how I’d handled a particular situation.
I don’t enjoy those not-so-wonderful conversations. But here is the thing about them: They result in the most growth. And we have a choice to either be upset about them or learn to grow from them.
As teachers, we love to hear about how great we’re doing or how wonderful our newest idea is. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to celebrate success! But it’s the tough, constructive-criticism conversations that catapult us to the next level of excellence. IF that is, we accept them with the right attitude.
Too often we do just the opposite. We decide that our classroom is our domain, and we know what is best. So we allow our feelings to get hurt. We get defensive. We dig in our heels. And we refuse to grow.
Now, yes, I know that sometimes administrators make bad suggestions and sometimes they don’t know what they’re talking about. But sometimes they do have wisdom and advice that can make us better—even if the idea sounds horrible at first.
So, the next time you’re faced with some constructive criticism, try to keep a few things in mind…
- Be humble.
- Realize there may be a better way.
- Have open-minded dialogue.
- Be excited about the growth process.
Father, thank you for Your continued work in our lives. Give us humble hearts that are willing to listen and learn. May we be open to what You are teaching us and willing to listen to the people You have placed in our lives. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Copyright Linda Kardamis.