Picture this scenario. You’ve had a great day teaching. The kids are happy. You’ve covered everything on your plan. Your behaviour management is textbook perfect. The kids are working so you go and check your emails. Suddenly you’re plunged in to a pit of despair and anxiety. There’s a message from the front office asking you to call a parent. No explanation, no ‘heads-up’ about what they’d like to speak about. Your heart stops.You break out in a cold sweat. A million possibilities run through your head.
- “What’s wrong?”
- “Did I do something wrong?”
- “Did something happen that I don’t know about?”
- “Is he being bullied?”
- “Did I remind the kids to put sunscreen on?”
Well, I can tell you that TPT sellers experience a very similar situation. Nothing stops a Teacher-Author in their tracks like feedback from Teachers Pay Teachers. They feel same sense of panic. The same surge of (usually) unreasonable dialogue rushing through your head.
- “Please let it be great or at least polite.”
- “I hope they haven’t found a mistake my editor missed"
- “Are they unhappy?”
- "I’m not cut out for this.”
- “My resources aren’t as awesome as I know they are.”
And on it goes.
I’ve had a few of these lately so felt the need to write on behalf of my fellow Teacher-Authors with one simple message. Please be reasonable.
Despite our initial fear we actually LOVE to get feedback. It inspires us, fuels our passion, builds our confidence and can make our day. I’d say 95% of the time feedback is a positive experience with high-fives and happy dances. 3% of the time we get feedback pointing out issues or suggested improvements. While these don’t fill us with joy they are constructive and helpful. They provide us an opportunity to improve our resources and serve teachers better.
The remaining 2% is another story. This feedback can fit in to 3 categories:
Cassie Credit Collector
Example: “Excellent Resource!” 2 Star Rating.
Umm.. Excuse me? This makes no sense! An excellent resource can’t be worthy of 2 stars from a possible 4. Sure, you’ve got your TPT credit for the next sale. But you’ve also broken a Teacher-Author’s heart and lowered their rating on TPT which affects their business.
While you’re getting those credit points please leave thoughtful feedback. You wouldn’t give your students half marks without an explanation. Please don’t do it to a Teacher-Author.
Example: “I expected more.” 1- 2.5 Star Rating.
The best TPT sellers are very thorough. On each product page you will find a detailed description, thumbnail images and a preview. Some spiffy sellers even provide video previews. Teacher-Authors go to great lengths to help you make an informed purchasing decision. They want to ensure you know exactly what you're getting.
Did you expect more? Did you check out the resource thoroughly to be sure it was what you wanted? If you did, and it was misleading, then leave feedback explaining what you thought you were getting. Leave details - It might inspire the seller to update the resource.“Caveat Emptor” is the assumption that the buyer takes responsibility for checking the quality of a product and its suitability for their needs. Sometimes it can be hard to know exactly what you’re getting on TPT. You look at the thumbnails and read the description but you’re still buying blind. If this is the case I get it if you’re disappointed in what you’ve received. I suggest that in the future you don’t make these risky decisions. Instead expand your search and look for a product that shows you exactly what you’re getting.
It’s out there I promise!
Example: “This was helpful but I still had to teach the concept.” Rating 2.5 Stars.
This one makes me cringe and breaks my heart a little. Yeah you will need to teach the concept because, well, you’re the teacher! No resource can take the place of explicit teaching and nor should it! Resources should complement and enrich your teaching. They will not do the teaching for you.
Geeze Teacher-Authors are a sensitive bunch!
Nope! We're people.
Teacher-Authors know they will get negative feedback at times. Even the TPT superstars have negative reviews. Bill Gates said "We all need people who will give us feedback. That's how we improve." All I ask is that you provide valid, thoughtful and genuine feedback.
Your voice does matter and teacher-authors want to know what you think. But keep in mind the real-life person on the other side of the internet. The Teacher-Author who has probably worked a full day in the classroom like you. Or is at home with her new baby trying to supplement the household income with her business. The teacher-Author who can't face another year of IEPs and behaviour plans and needs a break. Leave feedback that is constructive and detailed. Leave feedback that will inspire the development of quality resources. Leave feedback that is purposeful and we'll all reap the benefits.