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Normal Day of School

As it has been 18 months since the world, specifically the education world, has been rocked by a world-wide pandemic, it occurred to me that there are a number of students, teachers, and administrators that have not had a “normal” day of school. 

There are 2nd graders that have never been “in-person” with their teacher and friends an entire year.  There are 1st graders that this may be their first time being in a school, holding a book, or having to sit in a desk. There are students that take class online that may have had various teachers through the year due to the teacher shortage. I think about the high school seniors that have had the last 3 years be even less predictable than the normal high school and teen years. 

I think about the teacher entering their 3rd year of teaching that has never had their entire class in the setting they had imagined, trained for, and planned.  There is the second-year teacher that may be in the building or classroom for the first time this year.   They may actually be able to walk across the hall and ask a colleague for advice or borrow some tape. What about having to time your bathroom breaks around the bell schedules so you don’t leave kids unattended instead of when my next zoom call is?   Sneaking out by turning your camera off and muting for the cup of coffee or to get fresh air is no longer an option. 

What about the numerous administrators that are dealing with scenarios for which no training could ever prepare you? Many of these administrators are new instructional leaders (principals) in their buildings or districts (superintendents or directors).  As they look to focus on the needs of the classroom instructional leaders (in-person and virtual teachers) it has never been more important than now to give constructive feedback.   

We are in a teacher shortage, and we must be able to grow and retain talent.  It does not matter if it is a rural schools, urban school, suburban school, or virtual school, most districts are experiencing a teacher shortage.  Feedback is critical to foster growth and development as discussed by a national panelist. Dr. Whitlock states in chapter 7 of her book “Teacher Evaluation as a Growth Process” that:

“Most of us can think of a time when feedback was useful to us. It may not have been formal feedback, but rather a simple, informal suggestion.  Anyone who has participated in athletics has likely received feedback from a coach at some time. Comments written by a teacher on a term paper or project may also be considered feedback to the student aspiring to improve a grade or standing in a class.   Why, then, is it so difficult to provide meaningful, consistent feedback concerning job performance?” 

We must be able to give feedback to grow our students, grow our teachers, and grow our administrators.  We must build them up, make them feel important, and feel they are part of a culture of success.  If we can do that, we will keep students in our schools, teachers in our classrooms, and administrators in our districts. 

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