Thursday, February 06, 2020

Sufficient support

Educators can only spread themselves so thin--in every class, educators consider students' need for supports, readiness to learn, supports in place, and time for best possible teaching. When teachers, like me, teach a number of different classes, it is easy to see how those attributes play a role in the success of individual students and the class in general.

For example, sometimes there are classes that have greater support in the classroom and at home, and sometimes there are groups of children that have less classroom support and less support at home. When we look carefully at this, it is often easy to see how one class may do better due to their right number of supports and one class might not do as well since they don't have enough support.

How do we help students in classes that lack best possible supports?

First, educators have to speak up to try to get more support for students at home and in school. Sometimes schools may rethink they way they deploy staff and the priorities they focus on in this regard.

Next, educators needs to speak up for just class make-ups. When one class is filled with students who need lots of support and another class has few children who need extra support, that creates unfair learning opportunities. At elementary school, it is important to make classes as equal as they can be with regard to needed supports.

And, if you can't get the support you need, you may need to reach out for greater supports in many ways. One way is to seek greater volunteer support. The challenge here is that if children need a lot of supports, those children generally need a professional educator's support rather than a volunteer. You can also create an atmosphere in the class where students help one another--students, particularly at the older grades, are terrific at teaching each other and helping one another achieve. There's a just-right equation when employing student helpers as you want to make sure that those students also have good learning opportunities, but we know that teaching is the best way to learn, so when young children teach one another, they learn a lot too.

This post also demonstrates one very important reason why administrators have to be careful about comparing one teacher to the next, especially educators who teach same groups of children all day. The make-up of classes greatly affect students' achievement and administrators have to be mindful of that as they create classes and evaluate educators too.

Family members also sometimes don't realize how little time educators have for each child in a class setting. Most educators are working with large groups of students each day, and those large groups prevent a lot of personalized attention. That's why it is important for families to find ways to prioritize good learning habits at home, habits such as daily reading, completing home assignments, and educational related recreation and family events such as visiting museums, playing games, watching good movies, reading good books together and more.

How do we best support our students at school, at home, and in the greater community? The list of possible supports is endless, and it takes our good work on our own and together to well support each of our students.