A middle school teaching colleague named Tim and I used to bemoan the title phrase when it came from our 8th graders' lips. We heard it constantly as students ventured into new projects, papers, presentations, and the like. My colleague taught US History to 8th graders while I taught Speech, Debate, and Negotiation. We hated the phrase because its utterance signaled to us that students did not want to engage in the vulnerability of the creative process. Rather they sought efficiency. They wanted to know the quickest route to get something done that would produce a good grade. Ultimately, we felt they were saying "Hey, look Mr. Zavada. I'm busy. Just let me know if this is o.k so I can get my grade and move on to the next thing I have to do."
Ultimately, we felt they were saying "Hey, look Mr. Zavada. I'm busy. Just let me know if this is o.k so I can get my grade and move on to the next thing I have to do."
Fast forward to today. My friend is a Dean of Students at another school and I run my own consulting firm that helps schools and teachers. I advise schools and teachers with their professional growth. I also advocate for strong mentorship opportunities for teachers. As I work in my practice and reflect on what new to school teachers need, I am reminded of this phrase. I now think that perhaps this phrase is not all bad especially from those who have come into a new culture.
I think many teachers new to a school (mentorship is not just for new teachers, since school acculturation is critical to retention), what they often need are cues that come early and often that they are on the right track. Nothing is worse for a new teacher than to learn 3-6 months into a school year that something they were perpetually doing went counter to the culture or unwritten expectations of the school (of course, these cultural expectations should be spelled out). It is a perfectly legitimate question for one to ask "is this o.k.?" as they start a new journey.
So I have changed my mind. This phrase is entirely appropriate especially as one embarks on a new journey such as teaching in a new school. I would also give students some grace. While the last thing we want to do is stunt creativity, it is nice to know we are on the right path when we begin a journey to a destination.
If you would like help working with your teachers or guidance setting up a mentorship program that helps your teachers stick and helps them carry forward your mission daily, let's chat. Several analyst studies like this one from the Vanderbloemen Search Group suggest that turnover will be at an all-time high in the next couple of years. With the way 2020 went, it would not be hard for you to imagine losing anywhere from 10-20% of your faculty. I want to help you, especially as you focus on your Covid preparations, schedule adjustments, and getting those new hires on board.
I am available to come to campus or can easily help you through Zoom at a lower price point. My team and I have been helping schools with remote learning solutions and best practices, as well. We have been doing this since March 2020. Let RoundTable's expertise work for you.