A Mistake, An Apology, And A Lesson On Feedback

Earlier today I sent an email out to the nearly one million educators on our Edublogs list.

The subject line had an oh so embarrassing mistake.

Here it is:

Your invited! Free course on blogging with students

Of course you caught it immediately. I did too, as soon as it landed in my inbox. Unfortunately for me, by that time, there was no way to ‘unsend’. Major oops!

Making Excuses

I could suggest that this mistake was in part due to the exhaustion that any parent with a 2-month-old and a 2-year-old would understand.

Or, there’s the excuse that I was working too quickly, trying to squeeze too much in at the end of a long work day.

None of it matters, though. As you’ll see in a minute, clearly my mistake struck a nerve with many, and for that, I’m truly sorry.

Open The Flood Gates

As soon as I saw the mistake, I knew exactly what was about to happen. I have made a typo or two in a mass email before. But nothing could have prepared our team for the flood of emails, tweets, and complaints we were about to receive.

If you are going to make a grammar mistake, do your best to make sure that it isn’t in front of hundreds of thousands of English teachers!

Can I Learn From This?

I’ve been working on a post about feedback recently – mostly aimed at helping students learn about creating quality comments on classmates’ blog posts. But I hadn’t yet been able to come up with a unique or interesting angle to make the post good enough to publish. It struck me that perhaps using some of the feedback we received about this mistake might make for great examples and help spark discussion.

So, here goes. I hope to not further upset anyone that contacted us by sharing these – it really is meant all in good fun!

Which of the following types of feedback do you find the most helpful and why?

The Factual Feedback

Your “your” needs an apostrophe: you are contracts to you’re. Or you can send me an invitation that you might identify as “your invitation”. “Your invited” is just wrong

The Punitive Feedback

For the love of grammar! This is an educational blog site and you use the incorrect form of you’re in the title? “Your invited” come on! Shame. I am leaving your mailing list.

The Regretful Feedback

How I wish you could pull this email back and change it to YOU’RE invited! 

The Condescending Feedback 

Surely Edublogs is not endorsing poor spelling?

The Grammatically Incorrect Feedback

Don’t you mean you’re invited!

The Ranting Feedback

I’m afraid that if the standard of your product is ​​illustrated​​ by the quality of your/you’re grammar in the subject line, I would ​​ NOT want to use “edublogs” in my school

The ‘Starts With A Positive’ Feedback

I LOVE Edublogs, but as a teacher I can’t help but notice the Subject line of the most recent email I received is incorrectly spelled: Your should be You’re 🙂

The ‘Ends With A Positive’ Feedback

As an English teacher, I cringed. You meant, “YOU’RE invited [as in you are…]. That’s all.
Smiles.

The Public Shaming By Tweet Feedback

Ouch! @edublogs with a grammatical #epicfail in their email this evening. #edchat #sschat #tlap #LiteracyMatters

The Polite Feedback

Just an observation. As an English teacher, my superpower is noticing spelling and most grammatical errors…it’s a thankless job…but just wanted to bring to your attention that the most recent notice I received should read, “YOU’RE invited!” rather than “YOUR invited.” I appreciate you! Just a hazard of being an English teacher.

Thoughts On Feedback

Reading through the different replies we received got me thinking about the effectiveness of feedback that I’ve provided students over the years. I know that Edublogs isn’t a student, and those that emailed us aren’t our teachers, so the situation doesn’t totally apply. But I’ve been reminded by all of this that there are dozens of ways to say the same thing. And some ways may just be more productive and helpful than others.

Please leave a comment below with any thoughts you have on effective feedback. We’ll use it to help put together a more detailed resource to use with students.

In the meantime, we’ll keep working hard to provide a platform that provides a safe place for us all to share, make mistakes, and learn from each other.

And once again, I’m sincerely sorry for the grammar mistake in our email today. 🙂

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32 thoughts on “A Mistake, An Apology, And A Lesson On Feedback

  1. I don’t know what it is about typing online (especially texting) but confusing ‘your’ with ‘you’re’ is really common. Has anyone not done that? It’s probably a brain thing. That emailing and texting can be so conversational, that we type as we would speak, and our brains send ‘your’ instead of ‘you’re’ even though we know perfectly well the difference. Yes, we should proofread our stuff. But these mistakes happen. Often. In the online context, when I see that kind of “error,” I don’t attribute it to lack of intelligence or laziness. I just see it as an online thing.

    My attitude is different I suppose when I am reading the New York Times or a journal article. But at the same time, I’ve noticed when reading online newspapers, the large number of stories with some kind of retraction at the end due to misspelled names or omission of facts or misattribution. There just isn’t the multiple pairs of eyes that once proofed professional communications. Remember when staff typed letters and proof-read them? Then the boss proof-read what the typed letter? Then maybe another member of staff or upper management took a look at it and gave it final approval? We’re all busy. These things happen. I’m sorry to hear that such a bruhaha ensued. But then that seems to be an online thing too. 🙂 -Kai

  2. Good grief!

    I’m sorry you had to experience an unhappy deluge as a result of your little gaffe. As a school superintendent, I’ve long said that our mistakes are always public, and the public usually loves to amplify a good mistake. I’ve long believed that character is best demonstrated under the lamp of adverse circumstances, and you’ve shown more about who you are in your response to this issue than a hundred pithy blogs.

    I applaud you–you’re my kind of educator and you just made it easier for me to face my next mistake.

    Thank you Ronnie!

  3. Ronnie,

    Way to turn a true negative into a potential positive. I appreciate the ‘teacher move,’ put into play here. This is inspirational. Any future mistakes or typos on my part will be met with a smile, a genuine apology, and hopefully a platform to speak on feedback, correction, or just educating on the proper choice. I admit that I’m a speedy typer and often make mistakes. (in the English classroom, yikes!)

    Such is the life of the instant message.

    In regards to feedback, this is something that I’ve worked on with students near the beginning of every year. Placing classroom expectations or norms in effect early in the year will take away from knee jerk retaliation responses such as, “Don’t you know anything!” Or, “How could you make that mistake?!?!?!”

    Students know that mistakes happen, and I teach to constructively judge the paper, or the idea being presented, rather than the person writing or presenting.

    I’ve been inclined to create a Y-chart to elaborate what positive feedback looks like, sounds like, and feels like.

    Hope that helps!

  4. OH my goodness!! Not such a big deal! Anyone typing could have made the same mistake AND anyone that knows U, would know that is was a quick, probably tired typo. Don’t lose any sleep over that one- just a fast proof would have fixed it. Something I always wished I had done just AFTER licking the envelope. {-:

  5. Feedback can be good or bad depends on your situation in this case it was just a minor problem with your grammar. Everyone makes mistakes some big some minor at least now you will double check your grammar before you send an email. :}
    SMILES.

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