Written by Shanna Kirkpatrick, Chara Founder
The Art of Receiving Feedback
As a dance student, I loved hearing from my instructors in class! Whether it was a critique or praise, I held on to every word. I can remember how much I desired feedback—in my mind, I would file away their comments from week to week, ready for more. There was so much value to absorb from these role models in my life.
As an adult, I have taken this understanding of feedback to a new level. In each area of my life—as a studio leader, wife, and mom—I find myself tapping into this skill. How can I best support you?, How can I show up better?, and Where are my gaps? are phrases I hope our Chara Christian Dance Academy staff (and my family) have heard me ask. The art of receiving feedback is both a discipline and a practice.
Over the years, we learn that what is perceived as “negative” feedback is not actually negative at all: it is something to be reflected upon, considered, and used to grow. Receiving feedback is a gift! It is an opportunity to humbly look inward and reach one’s God-given potential.
So, how is it that we can teach our children to receive feedback—and even desire it? Comments from a teacher (or parent) can be difficult for some children to accept, understand, or process. Understandably, there is a learning curve for most of our students to embrace feedback and come to love how it helps them grow.
To teach our kids this value and lessen that learning curve, I believe we must start by modeling it through our own humility and ownership of responsibility: when things go wrong, we make it right and consciously take different actions moving forward.
I also believe this is a concept we should talk about and normalize with our students. We can do this by sharing examples of how we have asked for feedback, or how we have successfully received “unsolicited” feedback in our own adult lives. We can show our students that feedback leads to self-reflection, which then leads to self-improvement.
Further, we can ensure our students have a safe and supportive environment here at Chara, because that feeling of safety will help them feel more comfortable asking for and receiving feedback. One thing I love most about our Chara teachers is how well they really know our dancers, working with many students since they were small. I appreciate how they celebrate our students when they have applied what they’ve learned. Our kids are understanding that while it might be challenging to hear comments from those who care about them on how they can do better, when they take that advice and apply it, amazing things happen!
There is no better music to a teacher’s ears than for a student to approach them after class and ask How am I doing? or What else can I work on?, consistently applying the response week after week. As parents, you and I know that we can not want something for our kids. They have to want it for themselves and take ownership over their learning.
At Chara, we want every child to know their God-given worth and to see in themselves the potential we see. As we enter a season of feedback in the form of spring evaluations, as well as ballet exams and competitions for some students, may we support each student on their growth journey. May we encourage them to have both pride in their accomplishments, a healthy analysis of feedback, and a vision for their desired future. Great adults are grown when children show up boldly in the face of challenges. This is me, they can say brightly. God has a unique path for my life and I am learning and growing in that path every day.