Pre-Pandemic – from the time I step foot on campus to the last bell, I give the kids my undivided attention and tons of animation. I am engaged and subsequently, so are the learners that I teach. Since we spend a great deal of time together it has been my personal experience that long stretches of time together feel better when people are happy. So, while I am focused on content, I make also sure to balance that with a good time.
Post-Pandemic – actually still in the thick of a Pandemic – with all of the noise about masks and not having breakfast in the cafeteria, etc. this continues to be a theme I keep true to. LEARNING and GROWING is IMPORTANT and FUN. Granted, I have been fortunate to not have any close family members become infected with the virus. So I am a bit less worried than a number of fellow teachers who have tested positive at some point, had close family members test positive or have underlying health issues that may become problematic. I totally understand that they may be a bit less enthused about returning to the classroom in the wake of pandemic conditions.
Meanwhile, the accountability gods are working hard to get documentation on how well teachers are making the “anything but normal” circumstances match up to the performance evaluation rubric. Can we work in small groups to provide hands on and differentiated activities as we did pre-pandemic? Not exactly. And how would a teacher “monitor student understanding” in person when social distance is still a mandate? Not sure. Teachers aren’t sure if they should walk around or sit at the desk behind the shield. Students aren’t sure if they can pull the mask down quickly in order to avoid sneezing in it. And you want to come in and do an OBserVation?
Yes, we do understand how important it is to make sure that teachers are doing everything pedagogically possible to ensure substantial teaching and learning occurs during the pandemic. Yes, we also understand that students will fall behind if this best effort is absent from the 2021 School Year. We get it. With that said, it only becomes a question then of HOW will the evaluation affect teachers? Will it be simply recorded as a measure to demonstrate that effective teaching and learning occurred, Pandemic Style, in the best ways possible? We can HoPe right? Or will teachers who could not grapple with technology quickly enough or create engaging lessons and activities from 6 feet apart receive less than satisfactory evaluations? Let’s hope NoT.
I sure hope that only as a measure of BeSt EfFort teaching and learning will be the way that 2021 observations will go down in history! The other option would be too much like a slap in the face to some of the most dedicated people on earth – Teachers 🍎