My Little Pony and the Value of Feedback

We had another RESA meeting this week where our mentor led us in discussion of the difference between summarizing and reflecting. Ups to my colleague who nailed it, very succinctly.

We got a little off track but had a good conversation on how our previous mentors (and some current administrators) are really good at giving feedback. Having a quality mentor teacher, we agreed, was crucial in the beginning of our career.

I even had an experience just in the past couple of weeks where a current admin dropped in at a time I was struggling with a particular child; she gave me a piece of advice and I tried it out. It worked then, and I mentioned that I would try it again when I next had that student. A few days after that, the admin followed up with me to see whether her advice continued to work — she was seeking feedback on her feedback.

Our current mentor had concern, because we were particularly praising mentors who knew what it was like in the classroom, our fellow teachers. She has been out of the classroom and in school administration for long enough that she was concerned her feedback wouldn’t be meaningful to us. “It’s not about time and distance,” I assured her, “It’s about perspective.

And then I further elucidated my point by citing an episode of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. Yes, in a professional meeting. Nerd alert on high.

6561441147In the tenth episode of the sixth season (I had to Google that), Applejack and Rarity try to enjoy some time at the spa, but service is backed up. Applejack investigates and discovers a small problem that the spa employees hadn’t noticed. Not only that, but in trying to resolve the issue, the spa employees were actually exacerbating it.

Rarity: Honestly, how in Equestria did it never occur to you to check for leaks?
Aloe: There’s just so many other things to worry about! I suppose ve get used to the vay things are, and we don’t realize there vas problem.
Rarity: You obviously need an outside eye to evaluate the situation.

Applejack insists on fixing the small problem (because she is a pony who has a toolbelt and she can operate tools despite having no fingers don’t question cartoons) despite using up the only bit of time she had to enjoy the spa.

Then they return to Applejack’s farm, where she left Twilight Sparkle in charge of feeding the pigs. (Why do herbivorous ponies raise pigs? Because it’s a cartoon). Despite having an hour, the job is not done. It turns out, the instructions Applejack left were long and overly complicated. She had gotten used to doing things a certain way without realizing her routine now contained inefficient, unnecessary steps.

Not only is this a helpful reminder to me for the next time I leave lesson plans for a substitute, it’s a helpful reminder in general. You can be someone who finds problems and comes up with solutions for others, while being unable to see your own problems and find your own solutions. Being open to feedback is one way I continue to grow as a teacher.

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