A crucial part of successful educational initiatives and interpretation is the incorporation of feedback. Underscoring all we do in the Division of Interpretation here at Rocky is the role of our supervisors in monitoring, auditing and helping each of our programs grow. One of my goals for the summer was not simply to write my own interpretive programs and have them live up to my own standards, but also to take and successfully incorporate supervisory feedback.

This week was the first round of my program audits, in which my supervisor attended each of my programs as a visitor in plainclothes in order to take notes and lead me in a subsequent coaching session. I was nervous at first, even though this is an entirely normal part of this process – and something I am familiar with studying education. This position has felt so right and logical these past few weeks, it was hard to imagine that there was a potential for my performance to be evaluated in terms besides my own.

Scrutiny is never easy to learn to deal with and somehow I’ve never been terribly good at watching it happen, even if I’ve learned to take constructive feedback well. It was difficult at first to try to deliver children’s programming – and foster a welcoming, warm and relaxed demeanor – while keeping my eyes wandering toward my supervisor’s notepad. At some point, something in me clicked and I remembered a few key things – a) I like my job, b) I’m good at what I do, c) If I was going to do anything at all, it was to prove to my supervisor that all the weeks of me poring over paper and books and writing and re-writing my programs had indeed produced something worthwhile.

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Leading my Junior Rangers in an activity on mycorrhizal communication networks among trees.

Breathing worked. I relaxed and my programs flowed smoothly and logically. Even a series of temper tantrums on my discovery hike for families on Saturday couldn’t damper my mood. My subsequent coaching sessions went well – they were validating and affirming to all the hard work that had gone into producing them. The suggestions from my supervisor were minor, but I am excited – in pursuit of my summer goals – to incorporate them and deliver even better programs this week.