Monday, January 20, 2020

VIPKID: Receiving Negative Parent Feedback

What do you do when you receive negative parent feedback? As VIPKID (or any online ESL) teachers, we know that negative parent feedback is inevitable. We can't please everyone. After 750+ classes and over 270 (5-apple) excellent parent feedback, I received my first (3-apple) unsatisfactory parent feedback. As teachers, we often stress about this so I hope this post can be an encouragement to those of you who have received negative parent feedback, and I hope it can be a resource for what to do if you do receive it.

First, here is information about 5 apple reviews and some commonly asked questions:

What are apples and why do I want 5- apple reviews?
Just like we award our students 5 stars during class, we strive to be 5 apple (excellent) teachers! Parents are able to leave us apples, tags (for example: Excellent TPR, Great Classroom Environment, Patient etc), and can write feedback to us. Not all parents leave feedback, first of all, and many who do often leave apples and possible tags. Some parents write additional comments (I always love when they do!....well almost every time but I will get to that).  These reviews are on our profile and view-able to other parents.

Teachers want 5 apple reviews to (hopefully) help increase bookings and want to carry an average of at least 4.9 (of last 100 parent feedbacks) to receive additional certifications and to apply for programs within the Builders Program. Additionally, one of the criteria for a raise (every 2 contracts) is having a feedback rate of at least 25% (meaning 25% of your classes taught need to leave feedback).

Can I respond to parent feedback?
Yes! In our teaching portal (not the phone app), we are able to respond to parent feedback. Personally, I respond to each feedback by thanking the parent for leaving feedback and then telling them I hope to see their child in class again soon OR I am looking forward to seeing their child again (if they are on my schedule).

Now, some parents of my regular students leave feedback after every class, and I don't respond to all of those if I am teaching them multiple times a week. I usually try and respond to about 1 of 4. I will ALSO thank the parent in my feedback after class for the feedback they leave. I try to do this at least once or twice a month for my regulars who are leaving feedback for every class.

Now, what do you do if you receive negative parent feedback?

1. Watch the playback and determine if you feel their complaint is valid.

2. If you do not feel that their feedback is valid, click on "Request a Review" to the right of the feedback for the class to be reviewed. You will state the reason you feel it should be reviewed and then should hear back from VIPKID within 48 hours whether they will invalidate the feedback or not.

3. Whether the complaint is valid or not, take it as constructive criticism and MOVE on. Don't worry about it, don't dwell on it, and don't overthink it.

As mentioned above, I received a 3 apple review and then I received a separate feedback where the parent gave me 5 apples but wrote negative feedback to me. Here were my scenarios and what I did:

3 apple review
I woke up one morning, saw I had a review (yes!), and when I clicked on it saw the dreaded unsatisfactory 3 apple feedback. I clicked on the feedback and it was only tagged for fast speech. The student was a Level 3 (unit 12) student I had taught a month prior. I watched the first part of the playback and noticed my speaking speed alternated between a regular speaking speed and slow. It definitely was not fast. The student did not seem to have a problem understanding instructions, answering questions, or understanding me.

Here is what I did: I requested a review because after watching the playback, I did not agree with the tag or 3 apples. Knowing it would take a day or two to hear whether the feedback was invalidated, I waited several hours and then I responded to the parent feedback. "Thank you for your honest feedback. I will make sure to speak slower. Thank you!" I did this for a few reasons. I did want to acknowledge it to the parent (even though I disagreed-and I did not need to tell the parent I disagreed). I also wanted other parents viewing my feedback to see and read my response and know that I would be making an effort to watch my speaking speed.  The feedback was invalidated and it shows invalid but it is still view-able to parents.

5 apples with negative feedback
Personally, receiving written feedback is few and far between for me with my students so when I do receive one, it is a little like Christmas morning.  I can't click that translate button quick enough in anticipation of what is written. So I taught a Level 1 class to a brand new student and it went great. I felt like we nailed it, and the next morning when I woke up I had 5 apples ( yay!) and written feedback (double yay!). I clicked translate and there it was "did not pay attention to pronunciation, did not correct in time." WHAT?!?!?!?! My heart totally sunk, and it is all I thought about. I even copied the translation into another translation thinking maybe it was a mistake but it still came up the same way.

Here is what I did: I watched the playback and actually felt much better after reviewing it because I did correct the student a little but in reality, he had almost perfect pronunciations and didn't need correction. I responded to the parent feedback, "Thank you for your honest feedback. I will be careful to correct pronunciations. I hope to see (student's name) in class again." And then I MOVED ON!

This story did have a happy ending though because the student booked me again and became a regular (taking 2 of his 3 classes from me a week). And what did I do in each class? I probably over corrected and we went over pronunciations A LOT :) This had all happened in the summer and on Thanksgiving morning I taught the student and his mom came on after and was very sweet and encouraging. Maybe it was a misunderstanding and maybe it wasn't. But I took the constructive criticism and became more aware in my teaching.

One last thing to note- neither of these affected my bookings at all!

If you made it to the end of this post, congratulations! It was a long one. I hope you can find encouragement if you have received negative feedback or are even waiting for it. And I hope you can use some of these ideas.

Have you received negative feedback? And what did you do?


  1. I am a new teacher and I received 5 apples, but with negative feedback from one student. I am not sure how to feel about it, due to receiving the 5 apples. Your article was encouraging though. I have only taught 6 classes. I guess I will learn from it and move on.

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  4. That is a great story and great feedback/advice! (Lol) It's so important for us to move on after acknowledging what someone's comment is. You can't please everyone- but that doesn't mean we didn't do our job! (I'm gonna need to remember this!) You handled it with GRACE my friend!