Feature: Dealing with being Judged


Whatever you do in life, you will be judged, and no more so than the profession of teaching where each day judgements are being made. Not only do teachers face judgements from inspectors; leaders; pupils; parents; and colleagues, but educators also judge for many aspects of students work, attitude and attainment.

No matter what, sometimes these judgements can feel destructive as others project their insecurities, their negativity, and their fears onto you and your life, and you have to cope with it. One of the main problems with being judged is our intrinsic nature to focus on negative criticisms, forgetting positives; with teaching being a profession full of such analysis. In fact, you are probably judging this article whilst reading it!

If you take nasty people out of the equation (see passive aggressive below), most truth about criticism is that it’s almost always in your head. In teaching, most people will be positive or neutral about your work, but critics will be heard loud and clear, and what they say will hurt and potentially stick to your character.

The tendency to hold onto negative criticism is natural for most people, and according to research we remember negative emotions much more strongly and in more vivid detail. In his blog post, James Clear creates an effective metaphor in how to deal with such negatives:

Criticism and negativity from other people is like a wall. And if you focus on it, then you’ll run right into it. You’ll get blocked by negative emotions, anger, and self-doubt. Your mind will go where your attention is focused. Criticism and negativity don’t prevent you from reaching the finish line, but they can certainly distract you from it. However, if you focus on the road in front of you and on moving forward, then you can safely speed past the walls and barriers that are nearby.

Sounds simple, doesn’t it! Here are some tips of dealing with negative judgements:

  • One major way to deal with judgements is to remember that it is not necessarily a definition of who you are as a person; such opinions do not define you as a person, but are there as a snapshot of the work you do, and if managed carefully, a way for you to improve the way you teach.
  • Remember how such judgements make you feel, and consider this when making judgements yourself (to pupils and/or colleagues) - don’t be the hater. Don’t be the person who tears down someone else’s hard work. The world needs more people who contribute their gifts and share their work and ideas. Working up the courage to do that can be tough. Support the people who display that courage.
  • If you’re dealing with criticism, then don’t let the wall keep you from seeing the road. Focus on the path ahead. For example, when planning a trip, you may explore the online reviews from other travellers. Rationally, you will ignore the top and bottom 10% of the reviews and focus on those in the middle – they are the ones you pay attention to - consider this with the feedback you receive.
  • If you choose to respond to the haters, then surprise them with kindness. You might just win a new fan while you’re at it.
  • Finally, and most importantly, make the choices that are right for you. People will criticise you either way – It’s human nature.
  • Be aware of Passive Aggressive behaviours. They can be destructive.

Ideas developed for education via James Clear, with thanks.

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About UKEdChat Editorial 3187 Articles
The Editorial Account of UKEdChat, managed by editor-in-chief Colin Hill, with support from Martin Burrett from the UKEd Magazine. Pedagogy, Resources, Community.

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