Ever since I was a child I have had this instinctive urge for expansion and growth. To me, the function and duty of a quality human being is the sincere and honest development of one’s potential.

– Bruce Lee

Being a “sports mom” I got to see my boys, and their classmates, get a lot of feedback over many years. Many of their coaches adopted the 3 C’s of feedback: Compliment, Criticize, Correct. I adopted the same approach in my classroom and part of my leadership style but I modified it over time by adding a fourth C – Challenge.

4th C of Feedback


Every school year, get an index card holder and write something positive on each card for all your students. Add to it over time but keep everything positive. This way when you start the feedback conversation off with a compliment it will be sincere. Everyone likes medicine that tastes like cherries!


Now that the air is less tense, the criticism will be only about the “thing” that needs to be corrected/improved and less likely to be taken personally. I’ve noticed that sticking to one point of criticism during a conversation works best because it allows both parties to have moments of reflection during the conversation.


Unlike step 2, this process can be personal because it will need to focus on strengthening an area of weakness. If possible demonstrate the correct method. Allowing students the opportunity to execute the correction is the best way to see if they’re receiving the feedback as the help it was intended.


Now that you’re done Complimenting, Criticizing, and Correcting, send the students off with a challenge!

Challenge them to continue doing the things that they were complimented about, especially if it’s attendance! 😉

Challenge them to consider the criticism as the self help it was intended and appreciate the love and context in which it was given.

Challenge them to make the corrections and execute the changes for their personal growth. Doing better = being better.

Challenge them to circle back to the 3 C’s of feedback process when they’re alone with their thoughts about a project or an idea or even about their personal lives as a guide to help them out of the slump.

Challenge them to be better today than they were yesterday and even better tomorrow!

Most importantly, let’s challenge ourselves to remember the power of the 4th C of feedback.

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