Monday, November 26, 2012

Meeting All Needs?

I think one of the greatest challenges classroom teachers face is meeting all the needs in the classroom.  Let's just start with the math: (approximately 300 minutes a day/25 students) X 180)/60=36 hours per child, per year.

Then let's consider the diversity from children that learn at a rapid speed to those who struggle with the required content and all the children in between.

After that, add in family diversity from families that are involved in every aspect of their child's life to those who are unable to support a child's positive growth and development.

Yet, we know that children are flexible--able to stretch and collaborate for tremendous learning in a group.  We know that teachers are capable of facilitating differentiated lessons that meet many needs at once.  We also know that schools employ the expertise of many specialists and events to service children's needs in targeted, specific ways.  And parents work tirelessly to care for their children, develop their passions and strengthen their academic foundations.

What we can do for children is limitless--there is always more we can do to help a child learn, find his/her passion and thrive.  But we are limited by time and resources, and therefore called to prioritize with the best of what we know and understand to be essential and integral.

And with that prioritization we have to ensure the following:
  • The learning environment is a safe and caring place.
  • There is room for everyone's voice.
  • Essential skills will be developed for all so that children are able to communicate and work successfully in our world.
  • Passions will be celebrated and honored, and whenever possible there will be a chance to showcase, develop and enrich those passions.
  • The learning community will matter and all will play an important role--parents, students, educators, administrators and community members. 
As each parent, teacher, student and others reach for their piece of the educational pie, it's important to recognize both the limitations and potential.  It's also important for family members to realize that after the child, they, not the school, are the first teachers to a child--the ones with the greatest influence, time and resources to support and nurture a child towards his/her success and happiness in life.

So many needs, so little time, but with care, our every moment matters.