“Just”

In life, many people qualify their identity with the word “just”. I am “just” a stay-at-home mom. I am “just” a teacher. I am “just” an accountant. The same qualification exists with work. I am “just” grading papers. I am “just” sitting in a meeting. I am “just”…

It’s as if we’ve conditioned ourselves to believe the work we’re doing isn’t meaningful, that we’re not meaningful.

At the core of #makingfeedbackmatter is the belief that the conversation is the relationship. When my colleague, Jay, and I go into schools and discuss this concept with some people, they respond with, “You’re ‘just’ going to come in and have a conversation?” Yes, yes we are. We need to begin to open a conversation about why teachers chose to become educators. Why they choose to come to work every day. How they best see their role in the classroom.

In “just” forming relationships with teachers, we begin a conversation which we hope will lead to deeper conversations the next time we are together. Eventually, we will “just” have a conversation about the essential role of feedback in the classroom, where teachers will understand how feedback can “just” impact student agency and achievement. A conversation which will be a relationship where real issues can be discussed without shame and blame, but instead will lead to dialogue about how to authentically provide feedback.

Although we believe there may be patterns in what “good” feedback looks and sounds like, we believe that meaningful feedback will rely heavily on an authentic relationship in the classroom. Feedback will be a developed conversation between teachers and students, not words from teacher to a student. The student will feel a sense of belonging in the conversation to voice their own views and feedback. This is how we believe we will “just” increase student agency.

We “just” have high hopes. We “just” believe in the desire of educators to make a difference. And we believe that feedback might “just” help that happen.

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