Accepting Criticism Activities

Instructor: Bethany Calderwood

Bethany has taught special education in grades PK-5 and has a master's degree in special education.

Responding well to criticism can be difficult for people of all ages but it is a skill that is crucial for positive relationships. These activities include demonstration, discussion, writing, and role play and can be used for a variety of age groups.

Accepting Criticism

At some point, everyone is required to accept criticism from others. Students in school need to be able to accept constructive criticism from their teachers and sometimes from peers in order to correct and improve their skills and knowledge base. Later, when they reach the workplace, students will need to be able to accept criticism from their supervisors and employers in order to properly perform their job's functions and to succeed and advance in the workplace. The ability to accept criticism is a life skill that can be very difficult to learn. Explicit teaching and structured activities can help students gain experience with this very necessary skill. These activities are suited for students of varying ages.

Teacher Demonstration Activity (all ages)

Objective: Show students an example of someone accepting criticism well.

Materials: Colleague, work sample

Choose a type of work for which you will be expecting students to give and receive constructive criticism. For example, you may be preparing to write paragraphs or essays and perform peer editing.

  • Prepare a work sample, such as writing a rough draft of an opinion essay.
  • Ask a colleague to join you for a class presentation.
  • Prior to the presentation, ask your colleague to review your work sample and prepare some constructive criticism of your sample.
  • In class, distribute copies of your work sample to the class. Allow the class time to read through the work sample.
  • Sit down at the front of the class with your colleague.
  • Ask your colleague to give you feedback on your work sample.
  • As your colleague gives you feedback, respond to some of the feedback appropriately, and to some of it inappropriately.
  • After your colleague is done giving feedback, discuss with the class:
    • Which responses were appropriate?
    • Which responses were inappropriate?
    • What strategies did you see for accepting criticism?
    • When might you need to accept criticism?
    • How can you respond?

Role Play Activity (upper elementary/middle school)

Objective: Role-play ways to appropriately accept criticism.

Materials: Scenarios written on index cards

Prepare index cards with scenarios in which someone might receive criticism. For example:

  • You failed a section of your science test.
  • You made a mistake at basketball practice.
  • You broke a rule.
  • You are doing peer editing for a writing project.

Put students in pairs and give each pair a scenario on an index card.

  • Pairs consider their scenario. With one person giving criticism and the other accepting it, pairs plan and practice a role play of an appropriate way to respond to criticism in that situation.
  • Students do their role plays for the class.
  • After each role play, discuss other possible response options.

Response to Criticism Self Analysis (middle school/high school)

Objective: Consider your own response to constructive criticism.

Materials: Paper and pencil

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