The word empathy became a buzzword last year in many education spaces. Empathy, as defined in the Webster dictionary, means the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. It was crucial last school year as many reponed for the first time to show empathy. We showed empathy towards teachers, students, and parents. The school was different, and the operation and management were difficult. For the first time in a while, many schools put the people first. It was people over results. While it was the right thing to do, did showing empathy come at the expense of high expectations for students and teachers?
While schools are trying to still showing empathy this school since since the pandemic still continues, it is alright to now to raise the expectations. Can’t we still focus on the people, but also the results? Can we raise the expectations that were lowered last school year?
Every day, we are learning about the academic impact the pandemic had on many students. Many school leaders will agree that academics and learning took a backseat last school year. I get it. In many cases schools went back and forth from in person instruction to remote instruction multiple times. Some schools did not open back for in person education until January of this year. We know that virtual learning is not beneficial for many students. While we are not out of the woods yet, when it comes to school being normal, is this the right time for high expectations?
High expectations can be defined as strong hopes or beliefs that something will happen or that you will obtain a goal you would like to acheive regardless of the circumstances. High expectation in school looks like teachers and students coming to school in person for the majority of the year. The majority can be described as 95%. High expectations look like holding teachers and administrators accountable for student outcomes. How long are we going to ride it’s a pandemic wave? At some point, that becomes old. We have empathy for our doctors during this time, but we still hold them to high expectations. I believe we can do the same for our teachers and administrators, and we should.
I do not want us to look back on the other side of this and realize that we lost two even three years where children did not learn. For many children, quality education is the equalizer. God forbid we have another pandemic. A quality education is the difference between maintaining and suffering. Those who managed a little better during this pandemic than others can probably thank the education they received. Why should we keep expectation low when we know the impact this will have on students?