How to Modify the Template If Baobao ‘did NOT have a great day’

When I write a template, I always assume Baobao will have a great day in class. I am a ‘the glass half full’ type of teacher. 99% of my VIPKID students are amazing, but there is always that 1% that can make class less than enjoyable. Maybe Baobao had a tough day at school or didn’t do so well on a test, and they decide to take out their frustrations on you by acting out in class.

In this situation, I always try to leave kind but honest feedback. Yes, it can be really scary to leave not-so-positive feedback for the parent. I know on a couple of occasions my hand was shaking when I hit the ‘submit’ button but, as educators, we owe it to the parents to let them know when their child is really struggling.

Whether it is a behavioral problem, or the level might be too difficult, I would rather be truthful with my feedback rather than pretend everything is all sunshine and butterflies. That being said, it is never called for to be mean or vindictive in the feedback. There are ways to write honest feedback without being unkind.

I have a student that I have taught for about six months and, to be completely honest, we have a love/hate relationship. After almost every class, I always think, ‘They are never going to book me again! That class was terrible!’ But, almost without fail, this student pops back up on my schedule each week, so it must not have been as horrible as I thought.

A couple weeks ago, I had this student as my last class of the morning, so it was 9:30 PM BJT. The student did great for the first twenty minutes of class. He had just started Level Three, so he was in the days of the week unit. If you teach Level Three, you know how repetitive this unit is:

‘What day is it today?’

‘Today is Monday.’

‘What day is it today?’

‘Today is Tuesday.’

And so on. It can be super repetitive and, frankly, kind of boring.

At about fifteen minutes in, he started drinking something green out of a cup. I know the color because he also started letting it dribble out of his mouth in long gooey green dribbles. I felt like vomiting but still kept a smile on my face. Then, it got even better. He felt the need to put some on his finger and hold it up to the camera, so I got a really good view of it. I wanted to vomit even more at this point.

Prior to this experience, I had never taken away a star from Baobao. He had four stars, and I was getting ready to give him the fifth star because the class was almost over.

I took away his fourth star. He looked shocked when I said, “Bye, bye star.” He immediately stopped the negative behavior. Once he corrected the behavior, I gave him back the star I took away, and he did earn all five stars by the end of class.

Now that I had survived this class, (and if you’re wondering: Yes, he booked me again), I had to write the parent feedback. Honestly, I was dreading it. Did I write completely truthful feedback? Did I sugarcoat it? If so, how much? Did I ignore the behavior? I ended up taking a middle ground.. I was honest but kind.

Here is what I ended up writing about the student’s behavior in the parent feedback:

Towards the end of class, Baobao was a bit distracted. He was drinking something, and he started trying to have it drip out of his mouth. I had to ask him to please stop doing that and pay attention to the lesson.

I hope during the next class, Baobao will be a little bit more focused. He is a very smart student, and he is able to do well in class when he pays attention. – Teacher Caryn EU

I included this at the end of the feedback after summarizing the positive things which Baobao was able to do. There were many positives, too! I try to avoid writing excessively about the negative behavior; I keep it short and to the point. Lastly, I always end with a positive.

In the teaching world, we call this the positive sandwich: positive, negative, positive. Try to sandwich the negative between two positives, so hopefully, the parent will remember the positives more than the negatives.

I know it is scary leaving less than stellar feedback, especially with the threat of one apple feedback hanging over our heads. I am happy to note that I continue to teach this student, and we still have a love/hate relationship (mostly love with a little hate thrown in every once in a while). His parents did not leave me a negative apple rating. Since they keep booking me, I truly believe they are satisfied with my teaching methods and the growth their son has made in classes with me.

Happy Teaching! – Teacher Caryn EU