Teachers: your students are your best educators.
Ask them, then listen.
What doesn’t work in curriculum, lesson delivery, content, assessments? Why?
Be willing to shift. Or not.
I write this to myself as much as to other teachers!
Every class has a student brave enough and invested in you as the teacher or in the subject to speak about this. I consider those students my “emotional barometer” for class. Maybe there is a safety for many students who offer verbal or written feedback. This is great! Students stop by before or stay after class, participate in discussion, and through their feedback I know if my lesson fell or soared.
If we shift and grow and change based on real time ideas and comments, we model to students how to lean forward as learners. I know the strategies I used in 1999 don’t work now. Or in 2013, or even 2019. As educators, we continue to tread the fallout of two school years of disruption, emotional pain, and fragmented learning. We have inherited students who were in middle school then and don’t like to read, feel pained slogging through research projects, and lack grit and resilience. I think they will grow and mature soon enough. Other students are growing and thriving in remarkable ways.
I continue to hear from my 3 daughters about some teachers who are stagnant, unwilling to listen, don’t realize many good students are floundering, and as a result — their students suffer for the teacher’s ego. Yes, it’s narcissistic to decide not to grow as an educator, and damaging to not listen to your students.
But long after my daughter leaves the classroom of a teacher who listens, grows, adapts to student needs and skills levels — many times those teachers are invested and make a lasting impact. Those teachers have engaging lessons and strategies to draw in all their levels of learners and have chosen to adapt and stretch.
I say this as a parent and an educator, fully knowing the depth of exhaustion I feel now in teaching and parenting. When the month of May arrives, it’s a new level of zany!
But please listen to your students and choose to grow. I guarantee the result will be stronger relationships and increased student belonging.