“Schools need to provide a way of making sure that children are educated at the level that is appropriate for them.”
The quote above was in a piece that appeared in MindShift about the gifted and talented population. For me as a special education teacher, this quote rang true for my students who are at the other end of the spectrum. I am also a parent of children that fall into the G & T category and know first hand how traditional schools struggle to address the needs of these students. Could that mean that even your average student needs special concerns as well? Heck yes, and that is where being a connected, concerned, and conscientious educator comes in.
This is also where respect and professionalism need to be encouraged and honored in the classroom. Standardized testing that throws all kids into the same pool and tests them without accommodations or differentiation is absurd and anyone with common sense understands this. Rather than rant about the ridiculousness of it all, I would like to share some pointers on how we may be able to overcome this mindset. Here are some tips to consider to be a connected, concerned and conscientious educator:
- All children (as well as adults) develop at different rates and this needs to be taken into consideration from day one.
- All children deserve the right to a healthy environment in which to grow and play and learn.
- Families are changing, these changes in family formation, household structure, work-life balance, and the child must be considered.
- Many factors affect children and their behavior, whether it is environmental, context, social grouping, or cultural considerations, they all need to be factored into understanding individuals.
- Instruction needs to match tasks, activities, and assessments with your students' interests, abilities, and learning preferences.
- Students learn best when they make connections between the curriculum and their diverse interests and experiences, the greatest learning occurs when students are pushed slightly beyond their comfort level.
- Teachers need to provide appropriate levels of challenge for all students, including those who lag behind, those who are advanced, and those who are right in the middle.
- Take the time to get to know your students, this time will be well spent and be advantageous in the long run for both you and your students.
Consider all the other factors that contribute to learning and success, from active learning strategies to intrinsic motivation, grit, self-regulation and outside support and encouragement. Also, remember that it does not mean that the brightest stars are better or more likely to become more successful in life than their peers. It is integrity, effort and work ethic that leads you down the path of becoming an accomplished adult!