Sunday, May 05, 2019

How can we help every child succeed?

Do educators advocate for the powerless in schools? Who are those powerless, and how might they get lost in a school system, school, or classroom?

In successful schools, those without power and progress are typically few, but they do exist. In schools like this, students who don't make progress may not be seen as important because they are so few in number and can be unimportant from a statistical perspective, a perspective that finds most students scoring high and doing well. These students do exist, however, and successful schools are the kinds of places that can really make a difference for students like this because we have the resources, we have the time, and we have the staffing to do the best possible job.

How do we take the objective to teach all students well seriously and work towards that aim? First, we have to acknowledge the problems we have--the small spaces where some students are not succeeding in ways that we hope for and plan for. Then we have to dissect the issue carefully, sensitively, and respectfully to figure out what's going on--why does this problem exist? Problem solving does not benefit from exclusive process, shaming, and blaming, but instead profits from inclusive process that sensitively takes into account the experiences, ideas, and efforts of all involved. 

After that we have to make changes and try out new and different ways to remedy the issues that exist and help those children who are not making expected progress, make that progress. We might begin a process like this:
  • Taking a look at the program and where our deficits may be.
  • Identifying our at-risk students early on.
  • Making good time to think deeply about who these students are and the specific success criteria we want to achieve with these students.
  • Carefully crafting multi-faceted programs, with an eye on remedying past deficits, to meet these students' needs including time-on-task with experienced, dedicated educators, consistency, optimal learning tools, supports, & pedagogy, positive home-school communication & partnerships, significant time-on-task with the learning goals, regular assessments to determine if students are learning, and regular problem solving efforts.
We have a responsibility to do this, and we can do this. I look forward to this challenging work ahead. Onward.