Guest post by Melody McAllister

When I was scrolling through my Twitter feed, one of my favorite educators, Dr. Amy Fast, sent out this Tweet and it stopped me in my tracks. 

Maybe it stopped me because I’m feeling this in a super way right now.  While I work and teach my kids and try to do it all, IN A PANDEMIC, I am constantly wondering if what I’m teaching them is what they need the most? And like the Tweet says, there’s not a one-size-fits-all systemic answer, but we do have the power to find out what our students need.  

Assign Students to Respond in the Private Comments

If you have followed Spreadsheet Queen Teacher Tech Alice Keeler for any amount of time, you know she loves to use Private Comments to interact with students and give feedback! I admire this because with the use of technology, this helps students feel a connection with their teacher. When the teacher gives feedback, he/she can do it in a way that doesn’t embarrass but tells each student, “I SEE YOU.” 

If you watch this short YouTube by Alice, you’ll see how to assign students to respond in the private comments.  I encourage each person who reads this post to take it another step deeper and call the assignment, “How can I help you?”  or “What is working for you right now?” and give the instructions to respond in the private comments. With the safety of privacy, you can begin to see what is helping or hurting your students in the present moment. I know that as teachers, we can’t solve the problems of the world, but the more we understand our students and their unique situations, the better we understand what truly matters and can plan accordingly.

This may be something you are already doing, but for beginner and intermediate tech teachers, this might be the first time we take the private comments in this direction.  If you are in an administration position and use Google Classroom with your staff, you can also use this to help serve those in your school community. 

We do everything possible to fill up the tanks of our students, I wish that every eye who sees this post will also be fueled up with support, as well. You are important and what you do matters every day.  Thank YOU for ALL you do.

About the Author

Melody McAllister is a wife, mother of five, educator, and author. She and her family relocated to Alaska from the Dallas area in 2019.  McAllister is 2017 Garland NAACP Educator of the Year and author of the I’m Sorry Story, a children’s book about taking responsibility for mistakes and making sincere apologies.  She is also the Logistics Manager for EduMatch Publishing.  McAllister has spoken at ISTE and ASTE about equity issues in education, and writes about her journey in her blog, HeGaveMeAMelody.com.

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