I have been teaching public school children for a decade. From first grade to eighth grade and all the grades in between, I have seen, first hand, students soar above their perceived potential. At the same time, I have seen others struggle to reach it.
I have heard all the rationales from socio-economic disparity to learning styles, from Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs to a lack of interest-based learning, from ineffective schools and ill-trained educators to the lack of necessary educational resources. I will not disparage those factors as they do play a role in the social and academic growth of all children, however, I refuse to believe that they cannot be overcome.
In my career I have met with hundreds of families to discuss the successes and shortcomings of each their children’s academic efforts. By the very nature of the educational process, each child and each family presents the educator with a unique set of challenges and needs that must be accounted for. That being said, it is a flawed mentality (be it explicit or implicit) that the responsibility lies solely with the classroom educators to meet these academic needs.
Looking back over my ten years in the classroom, I can categorically say that there is, in fact, one panacea that has continually produced students that excel both academically and socially. Regardless of financial status, racial background, familial makeup, or special needs, there exists a common experience that has been present in the majority of my most successful students. It is simple and timeless, and any parent has the power to do it. Nevertheless, it stands as the four words I find myself wanting to yell from the mountaintops each year as a fresh crop of families enter into my classroom:
Read with your kids!
From the Teach.com blog –January 16, 2018
For most of us, grades were always a part of school. Work was assigned, it was completed, and we were given a score reflective of our efforts and understandings. At regular intervals, these scores were compiled and sent home on report cards to inform our parents or guardians of our progress.
Over time, grades have become a ritual of the educational process that most students, parents, teachers, and administrators have come to expect as a measuring stick of progress and achievement.
Recently, there has been growing support for removing grades from the educational landscape altogether. Instead of A’s and F’s or 100s and 0s, there have been pushes for more authentic evaluative criteria like standards-based proficiency or relying exclusively on descriptive feedback. It makes sense; successfully facilitating a growth mindset in students involves assessment styles tied to more intrinsically relevant experiences than arbitrary numerical scales.
Read more at the Teach.com blog: The Implications of Grading Without Zeros
From: The Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) Blog – Guest Post on behalf of Teach.com – July 5, 2017 –
The educational landscape is awash with initiatives to make learning more authentic and problem-based. For these differentiated approaches to work, students and teachers need networks of support to ensure that students can follow their own felt needs for learning. Who better to support that journey than the modern school librarian?
Forget Dewey decimal quizzes and overdue notices; today’s school librarians are the linchpins for modernizing the educational system. In the era of belt-tightening and budget cuts, school librarians are crucial pieces in the educational infrastructure that need to be both protected and cherished if our students are to receive the best education possible.
Read more at The Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) Blog : The Constantly Evolving Role of the School Librarian
HowToLearn.com GUEST COLUMN | by Sheldon Soper
There has been plenty of pushback against the claims that learning styles are a sure bet when it comes to facilitating student understanding. As with everything in education, there is no panacea to make learning magically happen. However, that does not mean learning styles have no place in a teacher’s toolbox.
By recasting learning styles through a lens of student learning preferences, educators can ensure they are offering academic help and support in ways that significantly up the likelihood of student engagement and, in turn, growth.
Taking things a step further, this same understanding can lead to purposefully differentiated instruction practices. Mixing and matching teaching techniques aimed at different learning styles can give students the opportunity to turn diverse learning experiences into complex understandings.
Read more at HowToLearn: Using Learning Styles to Reach Students | How To Learn
Prevent technology gaps from creating achievement gaps.
EdTech Digest GUEST COLUMN | by Sheldon Soper
Technology-driven classroom workflows need analog components to ensure students without reliable access to technology outside of school are not left out. Otherwise, the technology gap between those with access and those without will quickly manifest as an achievement gap.
Read more at EdTech Digest: A Fair Opportunity for Success