Undercover Boss and Student Feedback

Rarely do I find myself watching reality television, but last night I was caught up watching, “Undercover Boss” on CBS and left the closing credits with some gripping reminders of how important and powerful recognizing students can be. The episode centered around Chris McCann, President of 1-800-Flowers and his interactions with loyal, long-time employees of four different local stores. A summary of the show can be found here.

It is safe to say that many classrooms in our nation’s schools are still operated in a top-down,  teacher driven fashion that has hierarchical parallels to the business structure of many corporations. We all at some point in the day utilize on our bestowed educator powers as authoritative figures and those to be modeled and admired. while watching McCann reveal his true identity, followed by heaping great praise on his 1-800-Flowers ground troops, I was (admittedly) gripped by their response to his positive feedback. They were stunned, unable to articulate their appreciation in words, instead reduced to wide, beaming smiles and salty, but nevertheless sweet tears.

Sometimes when giving students private, positive feedback I am surprised by how uncomfortable they become or shocked they are, seemingly unable to gracefully receive thoughtfully worded praise. Maybe it’s the fact that our students are so focused on the never ending red ink numbers and letters that they forget what it means to be truly commended. Or maybe it just boils down to human nature and the importance of establishing empathetic connections with fellow man and woman. Whatever the reason, “Undercover Boss”  reminded me of the importance in taking time out from the daily classroom minutiae to give honest, positive feedback that builds stronger bonds and relationships between our students. Just as many of the lower-level employees left McCann’s office glowing, so too do our students when we take the time to recognize them as individuals and show them what they are doing really matters. This positive aura can lead to so many great things down the road ranging from a renewed student confidence in theirselves to better classroom management and respect.

Oh, and on the subject of empathy, shop manager of the top grossing retail location, “Dee” is a walking example of the importance of empathy and building relationships through genuine care… but that’s an entirely separate blog post for another day!

About MrMusselman

@BurlMAschools Science Specialist and @CambridgeCollg Science Methods instructor. @NSTA Professional Development facilitator and author of "Think Like a Scientist: Investigating Weather and Climate" NSTA Kids ebook.
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3 Responses to Undercover Boss and Student Feedback

  1. Nick Sauers says:

    "It is safe to say that many classrooms in our nation's schools are still operated in a top-down, teacher driven fashion that has hierarchical parallels to the business structure of many corporations. We all at some point in the day utilize on our bestowed educator powers as authoritative figures"How do we break this mold? (Thought maybe you needed another topic to post about:)I frequently have conversations about this, but our system isn't changing too fast. We have the same model for education that was used 50 years ago even though our society has changed drastically.

  2. sharnon007 says:

    Even now, I'm realizing how much I've been affected by the continuous criticism & comparing my skills to other's.I'm mainly talking about creativity. Even now, it's hard for me to 'let go' and try something new- because I was never artistic- and if I had a project that I had to do in an 'artistically creative format'- I flunked it by the teacher's standards. I always had everything that I was supposed to- all the way down the list of requirements; however, I always made a B or a C. It was easier for me to do a term paper!I'm trying to learn how to be creative 'in my own way', but it's hard to get past the Pavlov Effect of the Authoritarian Red Pen! Even though I have a good self-concept/self-worth, that's still back there.My wish is that educators remember what it was like & KNOW that it's NOT OKAY! Let them fail- encourage them & help them learn from their mistakes.It's not okay!Teach & Learn!

  3. sharnon007 says:

    Don't get me wrong- I think that it's the right thing to do- being flexible & demanding creativity. But, I don't think it's right to grade base on the lack of 'glittery images' or comparing one child's creative endeavors up to another that it may natural for.I feel like the more your able to practice & do things & have encouragement- it builds those 'handles' (Piaget) in so many other areas- and you're able to make connections that a term paper just won't do. Also, I see that creativity can enable you to see more 'real-world' connections. I'm hoping that our educators are more encouraging, in whatever area (creativity was just an example)- so as not to stifle.For another child, it may be a term paper instead of a creative project. I do believe that sometimes educators are too easy to let the 'Read Army' out instead of giving the encouragment that's needed.I used creativity, because it was an example that I knew well- and can still see today the effect it had on me.ThanX for the post!:0)

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