At school we know that students come to us with all kinds of strengths and challenges. While one student may read with ease, another might struggle. Similarly there could be a student who is challenged with math and another who finds math easy. Students demonstrate strengths in sports, social skills, art, music, technology, particular subjects, and more. Similarly, students demonstrate challenge in all of those areas too. Anyone who has lived for any amount of time, knows that's the reality of life--a mix of strengths and challenges.
So the challenge in school is to help all children succeed no matter where they are strong and where they might be challenged. This is easier said than done since many children have trouble understanding why they might not be able to do some things with the ease that their classmates enjoy. It's frustrating to be a slow reader, weak mathematician, the kid with few friends, or a challenged athlete. Like adults, children think, why can't I do all that I want to do, and be as good as my friends and classmates.
As educators we have to keep the messages alive:
- There are different learning timelines for everyone.
- No one learns exactly the same.
- What matters is your steady effort, asking questions, and seeking additional help when needed.
- Also, the more you know about how you learn, the better you will learn.
Even when you keep those messages alive, some students will shy away from asking questions while others will have challenges understanding that they don't learn exactly like their friends.
All that said, it's educators job to teach all students and help them in any way that they can. As I think about this, I plan to do the following in this regard:
- Introduce every lesson with the rationale letting students know why we're doing what we're doing.
- Inviting students to add information and thoughts about the plans with the question in mind, how can I help you more.
- Promoting student reflection about their learning strengths/preferences and using that knowledge to support students' learning success.
- Using data transparently so students know what their data looks like with an opportunity to ask questions and chart paths to reach desired goals and expectations.
Tomorrow students and I will talk frankly about the work they are doing with math tech and fraction projects. We'll look at an example of one team's project and review the project guidelines. I'll have students think about what will help them reach current math tech goals, and then we'll get to work reaching for those goals.
It's a limitless landscape of learning potential today, and the job is to help every child understand who they are, what they desire, and the skills, concept, and knowledge they'll need to move ahead. A mighty challenge, and a positive one too.