I can’t remember what year it was, but it was early on in my teaching career when I had a Vice-Principal tell me this very important tidbit of information.
“Craig, no matter what, you have to check for understanding every day.”
Obviously, at that point in my teaching career it was all about survival, but that advice has stayed with me throughout my journey in education. Nevertheless, midway through first semester, it just donned on me that I might have been checking for understanding throughout, but was I really checking on the people in front of me?
Sure, we did the Post It Note Assignment, which is pretty impactful, we talked about Self-Regulation and Self-Concept, but did I really check on the students? I stopped everything in that moment and uploaded a new assignment on D2L almost instantly.
The assignment simply read;
How Are You Doing?
Write as much as you want about the experiences so far this semester. Be honest.
Tell me how you are feeling about school and other aspects of your life.
It’s one thing to check for understanding, it’s another to check on the human being in front of you.
This year has been difficult for everyone. It’s hard to believe, but we are approaching the one-year anniversary of quarantine.
I tried to write as much as I could during that time. It was therapeutic for me, but I’m not going to lie, there were still tons of dark times. I didn’t talk about them much, but being a constant worrier isn’t fun in a middle of pandemic.
When everything shutdown last March, everything changed.
Sure, I tried to write about things and tell stories to take my mind off things, but it took me a long time. I wasn’t doing ok, quite frankly I was worried sick. In a way I think we all were.
The unknown is hard to process, accept and understand. Things got a lot better through the summer and then as things starting ramping up in September, the worry and nervousness was still ever present especially with the unknown around school.
I don’t write about school very often, but with all the worry, unknown and concern things have gone quite smoothly for the most part. Reflecting on that day, I just felt compelled to stop and access how the students were feeling.
It’s really important as adults to check in with one another, but it’s even more important as adults to check in with kids.
Some of the student’s answers were extremely profound, thought provoking and concerning, but they started a dialogue and that’s the most important aspect in all of this.
Late last week I decided to move the How Are You Doing? assignment up by about a month and a half. Obviously, we have just started the second semester, because things are looking a little different now with classes going live online, the answers and responses are gradually coming in.
As teachers it’s still as important as ever to check for understanding, but more importantly we have to check in with our students. I’m not the be all end of the teaching, I’m far from that, but every once in a while, we have to stop and ask the simple questions, because sometimes they are the ones that matter most.
From the classroom, to sports of any kind. Given the ongoing circumstances, I wonder how many coaches have asked their players this season how they are doing? We all need to check in, we all need to ask questions from time to time. How are you doing?