I’ve been there. I remember a few years ago, I was combing through TPT and found something that I thought would work for my classroom. The file was marked as good for K-5…and that should have been my first indication that it wouldn’t have been a good fit for a first grade class if it could also work for fifth. I was desperate, and I bought it anyway. The file had north of 200 pages in it…but probably only about 3 of them worked for me. The product was about 10 dollars…and I was not happy. Not at all. I had to contact TPT for a refund. Here I was with this huge file, and I could only use a few pages of it…and ended up having to create something anyway. What a waste! 🙁
I’m sure that teacher didn’t mean to disappoint me. Maybe since then, she’s changed the levels to reflect the proper range for the product.
Over the years, I’ve had a few teachers give me negative feedback for things.
I think I’ve evolved in my response to it though, and I’m in a pretty good place with it now.
Negative feedback is a precursor to growth.
A few years ago, I had an administrator give me some really great advice about negative parents. She told me that sometimes they can be our greatest teachers. She was absolutely right. Those experiences either taught me that I needed to make changes, or that I was stronger than I gave myself credit for. The only way for us to grow as teacher/authors is to get teachers to tell us the TRUTH. We need to welcome those who are honest enough to share that with us. Sometimes the WAY that a critique is shared distracts from the message. If things need to be changed in a product for the betterment of other teachers using it…then it SHOULD be done.
So, how do you leave feedback when you are so disappointed in a teacher created product? When you see that there are 300 4.0 ratings and you think…how on EARTH did NO ONE notice THIS? Well, here are some tips that I hope will help you! 🙂
Remember you are writing to a real person with feelings.
This is a teaching colleague. If you wouldn’t say those things in PERSON…to a real PERSON….then don’t say them in an online forum or on Facebook…or on any social media platform. The majority of teacher/authors are still in the classroom. Most people who purchase things from TPT do so because it’s a time saver. Keep in mind that even if you don’t find value in that product…they did spend time on that…and that sacrifice should be valued.
Think about how YOU would want someone to approach you if you’d made the same errors.
I think it really depends on the type of errors. In my opinion, simple edits such as typos or image clarity can be discussed in an open forum. When you have philosophical issues with a teacher’s product, I think those things need to be discussed in private. I’m all for teaching something with integrity, and I’m the LAST person to criticize someone for being righteously indignant at things within the field of education, but I’ll be honest and tell you that I’ve not really come across one teacher in my personal journey…or my TPT journey that seeks to misinform other teachers ON PURPOSE. There are times where we need to step into the lives of other educators and inform them of something that they may not be aware of. Sharing that is humbling for the person hearing it, and it should be done with the greatest caution for that person’s feelings. The teacher behind the product might be in error, but they are HUMAN, and we should respect that…and handle harsh critiques in a private forum.
Try not to let it get personal.
Keep the negative aspect of the feedback to the facts. Sarcasm and emotionally charged negative reviews will put the reader on the defensive, and they may miss the very necessary critique you are trying to give. The whole goal of the critique is to hopefully impact change. Rein in your displeasure to the extent that you are able to share your thoughts with as much grace as possible…so that the changes you need will hopefully occur! 🙂
Make sure you have properly read descriptions and viewed previews.
Descriptions and previews are your greatest advocate. If it is in the description or preview…but it is NOT present in the product, that is a problem. You NEED to discuss that. Ask questions in the Q& A section…or make a comment to ask for further clarification. Leave an email if you want to have more open dialog. Understand that some of the more popular sellers may get a LOT of email, and do not be upset if they do not respond immediately. The descriptions and previews should help you to make your best purchase. If you are not completely sold on something by the preview…DO. NOT. BUY. IT. I’m not kidding. Just don’t. There is no sense in rushing to make a purchase and then having buyers remorse afterwards. Better to pass when you’re unsure.
Critique is not one size fits all.
Not everyone is good at taking it in, and folks are at different stages of their journey.
If you are going to take off points for something, be specific in explaining why…and then leave your email for further discussion to occur. You never know, if the situation is handled correctly, that teacher may really come to appreciate your review…and it might be a point of growth.
Don’t be afraid to help another colleague be their best self.
Share your critique with humility and grace…you’ll be surprised how you grow…and how you might help others to grow as well.