Throughout our lives we are constantly confronted with feedback. From birth we begin to learn mom and dad like this..and they don’t like that, when I do this I am rewarded, when I do this I am punished. Throughout school this continues…teachers, administrators, college admission boards provide us with information about how we are perceived, what we can continue to work on and (hopefully) ways that we’re excelling. From the beginning of life we’re given information about our behaviors, our interactions with others and we begin to form an opinion’s about ourselves and our abilities. Now, some of us are equipped in a way that external feedback from others...negative external feedback from others is shrugged off. But for the majority of us, myself included, some of that negative external feedback creeps inside my mind, becoming ingrained in my own thoughts. So closely engrained that it becomes difficult to tell…is this my own original thought about by abilities? Or someone else’s interpretation?
Teachers need coaching because they’re human. Super- humans, I think, but human non the less. Teachers need more than instructional coaching which primarily focuses on improving student engagement, achievement and successful outcomes. They need support in caring for their mental health, effectively managing stress and a space to problem solve. What is required of teachers is astonishing to me, and it seems as though the list continues to grow and the resources to help them continue to shrink. I read a study recently that said approximately half of new teachers leave the profession before their 5th year of teaching. In the study, one instructor reports lack of respect and feeling disempowered as primary reasons for leaving the classroom for good. In addition to low salary, of course.
Going back to my initial thoughts about our life long bombardment with feedback. What types of feedback to teachers receive throughout their day? Oh! I should be specific…throughout their day FROM administrative staff? From their principal? From mentoring teachers? From their coach? Some of you might be reading this going, mentoring what? It’s been my experience, that teachers receive the most feedback from administration, when something additional is being requested of them. Attend an IEP meeting, return a parent phone call, integrate new pretests for THE TEST, etc. How often is the feedback given, positive, helpful, effective? How often does the feedback convey - I am lucky to have you teaching here and I want to continue to help you grow as an instructor.
Let’s be candid. Do teachers NEED coaching? NEED? No. Are some of them able to shrug off negative feedback, or lack of feedback from those around them? Sure. Are some teachers able to find resources independently? Sure. But something is happening with just about half of our new educators, they’re not feeling appreciated and eventually that will wear anybody down. I wonder, how effective coaching, mentoring and consistent, constructive feedback could change this astronomical teacher turnover rates?