Yes, our teacherly subconscious and knack for picking up on students' learning needs may steer our teaching approach in a particular direction on a given day, but this is certainly not the most rigorous and effective approach. When teachers, or any other professional, are evaluated by principals or supervisors, we don't need the research to know that clear communication and substantive feedback and direction is what allows us the opportunity to explore, practice, and grow our skills.
I've learned that I must make time - after the dismissal rush, in-between straightening desks, sorting through papers, and refining plan for the next day - to look through student products, reflect on their performance, and come right back to them the next day with tidings of their performance. Otherwise, what real direction do they have to grow in? In a structure that is guided by standards and learning goals, this feedback is the water to the roots.
As much as students need to see and hear where they have room for growth, they also need to see and hear the areas in which they succeeded in mastering or making progress in learning content or a skill. The ying and yang of learning - growth and gaps; I don't believe the two can be separated, and it's my new mission to make a conscious effort to provide students with feedback in both areas. How to do so in an effective and efficient way, on a nearly daily basis, is the burning question...
I'm still discerning the best approaches for providing students with this feedback. Do I hand back work from the previous day and address an area of growth that applies to most of the class? If this is the situation that presents itself, then reteaching a concept certainly makes sense. If only a few are struggling? Addressing those students' needs is likely best done in a one-on-one or small group; taking the responsibility to discern the learner's needs and to sift through a plethora of strategies to find an approach, on a trial-and-error basis, that works best for that learner is the essential step that I am still working towards daily.
Assessing and providing this feedback is part of the art and professionalism of being an educator. I envision assuming this responsibility as a catalyst in transitioning the role of the teacher from an "all-knowing" director to an expert and flexible guide. What and how am I going to teach today? I will focus less on having to stick "to the script" and schedule and more on where and who my learners are in a given day. Why steer an empty boat and leave the passengers hanging over the side or splashing in the water below? It takes more than one to navigate and make the learning meaningful in the end.