That is, each learner must be supported in gaining maximum access to and proficiency with the knowledge, ideas, and skills that open the doors to both present and future opportunity. Opportunity recognizes and extends as far as possible the potential of each individual to develop systems of knowledge and habits of thought and practice that typify successful, contributing adults. Opportunity means enlivening the classroom. It means enlivening minds. It means creating for each learner the sorts of learning experiences we would have wished for ourselves and for our own children.
We instill a desire to overachieve. Give us an average child and we'll make him an overachiever. Perhaps the surest way for a teacher to communicate to learners that they are important individually and collectively and that their class work is compelling is for the teacher to model high investment in both the people and content of the classroom. The teacher who communicates investment to learners makes it clear: I work hard to make this place work for you.
Immersion in the classroom is evident in invested teachers. They give what it takes to make tomorrow's class work for everyone.
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Invested teachers are often the ones whose room contains students before school, at lunch, or after school. Students understand that the teacher has time for them and wants to provide both sanctuary and scaffolding for them. Invested teachers share their thoughts about the classroom with their students.
I'll be interested in seeing what you think about the ideas. She cared enough about our success to give us her time even after we left. She means for us to succeed. She also wants our opinions.
Invested teachers make links with students' lives outside the classroom as well. Whether through making positive contacts with home, providing extracurricular activities, attending student events, or volunteering in the community, the invested teacher reaches out to know and support students in ways that extend what takes place in the classroom. These are roles that extend well beyond the roles of information provider and behavior manager. An advocate is a voice in strong support of the individual—one who does what it takes to make certain the individual is heard and represented fairly.
Finally, invested teachers are personally engaged in what they ask the students to do. That is, invested teachers work hard at learning, spend free time in pursuit of knowledge, think and puzzle over problems, and get excited about ideas. Invested teachers have clear personal goals toward which they work steadily. Invested teachers exemplify the pursuit of excellence: There are positive examples that tell their own story.
The biology teacher who, spring after spring, tracks the nesting patterns of red-winged blackbirds, dragging his students before dawn into a mosquito-infested swamp to watch and record the movements of the birds. The English teacher who writes poetry and shares it with her students, and not only teaches drama, but directs student performances. The coach who keeps on top of her game, razor-sharp on new rules, plays, and practices and always ready to share them.
The custodian who in his work exhibits pride of place and insistently, politely, and persuasively expects students to do likewise. These educators communicate investment. Students do not miss the message. These are teachers invested in what they teach, whom they teach, and where they teach, and the ideals for which they stand. Their messages come not simply from slogans on classroom walls, but from living out their beliefs. Classrooms are messy with agendas, complex material, and imperfect lives. Procedures designed to make the day go smoothly don't always work the first time—or the fourth.
Students don't always grasp ideas on carefully prescribed timetables. Young people are as likely to resist challenge as to embrace it. The teacher needs to help students understand that this is a place where persistence is a hallmark. To do that, the teacher must communicate the following: You're growing, but you're not finished growing.
The teacher who genuinely believes in the possibilities of each individual is not easily discouraged. Although the persistent teacher understands the internal and external impediments to learning faced by nearly every student, even the most able, that teacher recognizes no excuses for inferior work. Instead, there is a predictable support system for moving forward. The persistent teacher will find another way. In the eyes of that teacher, when a student fails, the teacher fails Carter, I recently met a retired teacher, now in her late seventies.
As I tried to encapsulate the meaning of the concept, her eyes sparked. I just tried different approaches with different children, until I found out the one that worked for that child. If none of the approaches I'd used in the past worked, I developed another way. I found that some students learned grammar best by diagramming sentences, some by transactional grammar, and some by analyzing signs on the streets and in magazines.
There was always a way that would work, if I just kept looking. The persistent teacher also models the steady but relentless quest for excellence. The persistent teacher generously acknowledges the distance a student has come academically, but also makes clear the distance each student has yet to go. That teacher helps students realize that the quest for quality never ends. If the quest ends, quality ends with it—and so does the growth of the individual. The persistent teacher not only points out that learning has no finish line for students, but lives according to that principle as well.
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Indeed, if we accept the premise of the dignity of the individual, recognize the diversity that implies, and combine that with the need to honor the group as well as the individual, we have already entered an indeterminate zone. From the film Apollo 13 , two powerful moments endure.
Given the nature of the classroom and its inhabitants, young lives are always at risk. There is always a problem. Still, by and large teacher expertise develops in proportion to teacher reflection on practice. Not only do teachers benefit from reflective practice, but students derive important messages from reflective teachers as well. To the student, a reflective teacher communicates the following: I watch you and listen to you carefully and systematically.
To what degree am I living my beliefs? In what ways does this place dignify or diminish each individual? To what degree am I an example of the kind of learner and person I ask my students to be?
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To what extent does this class commend the value of diversity in background, opinion, and talent? Am I aiming for a norm or for the best each child has to offer? What do I understand about the differences among people? What do I understand about the things all humans share in common? To what degree does this community we call a classroom help its inhabitants know how to live more effectively with other people? How well does this microworld equip young people for life in the greater world?
To answer these questions, of course, the teacher also reflects on the details of classroom practice. How well am I monitoring student readiness to learn and learning progress? How effectively am I using what I learn from assessment to guide lesson planning and teaching? What else do I need to know about my students' interests and modes of learning? How can I best build a three-dimensional portrait of each learner? At what points are classroom routines clear to everyone, and when do they help us work more effectively? When do they fail us in one way or another? What changes ought I to make in daily details that contribute to the greater goals of the classroom?
Teacher reflection inevitably attends directly to students' need for affirmation, contribution, power, purpose, and challenge. From continual reflection on these and countless other questions, the teacher's practice also becomes ever more intuitive and efficient in addressing student needs. Reflection also supports what Deborah Meier calls the power to care. It may well be that one of the factors that overwhelms our early visions of the possibilities in classrooms is encountering so many human needs at the very time we are so ill equipped to address them.
Feeling such personal inadequacy may compel us to stop looking at the needs—to build a protective wall between the hurt of the young and our disappointment in ourselves. There is a terrible and pointless pain in powerless caring, and it erodes the capacity for caring. We needed time and again to discover ways to effectively care. Part of it depended on having sufficient power. We kept extensive notes and records of children's work, continuously experimenting with better ways to keep and use such information. We met to work out ways to sharpen our observational skill at understanding children's learning modes and preferences as individuals—what engaged them most deeply, how they responded best to criticism.
We worked together to better organize curriculum as well as increase our knowledge about the subjects that our students were studying. We attended all manner of courses and institutes that suited our interests and needs. Being seen as intellectually curious people, modeling what a mathematician, historian, or scientist does, are rock-bottom necessities if kids are to catch on to what we're teaching about.
Our desire to teach, after all, needs to be connected always to our enthusiasm and respect for what and who we are teaching about Meier, , p. How could we issue an invitation to the risky endeavor of learning if it is a mass-produced invitation? How could we dignify a learner without offering that learner things to do that are important enough to give roots and wings to his or her dreams? How could we learn about the needs of the individual student or attend to those needs without full investment?
How could we make it all work for such varied individuals without dogged persistence? How would we find our way and help our students find their individual paths without deep reflection? It is circular. To establish ties with a student, we must as the fox explains in The Little Prince come to see how each student is unlike every other—and to see that, we must form ties with that student.
On some level, it's not so difficult to accept that circular premise. Most of us as teachers mean to see and honor the individual.
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As always, the devil is in the details. How do we translate abstract ideas into the very daily stuff of classroom life? What do tomorrow's lesson plans have to do with dignity, diversity, and democracy Beane, ? Chapter 4 will explore ways in which the concrete decisions we make about classroom operation translate into teacher response to learner needs—how those decisions lay the groundwork for thinking about curriculum and instruction.
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Sale Book Teacher Response to Student Needs: A Starting Point for Differentiation The good teacher communicates a deep regard for students' lives, a regard infused with unblinking attention, respect, even awe. What Was Our Vision for the Classroom? The Response of Opportunity If, as a teacher, my belief in you is unerring, and if I accord you the full dignity due human beings, I will do all I can to ensure that you will become all you should be.
The Response of Investment Perhaps the surest way for a teacher to communicate to learners that they are important individually and collectively and that their class work is compelling is for the teacher to model high investment in both the people and content of the classroom. The Response of Persistence Classrooms are messy with agendas, complex material, and imperfect lives. Requesting Permission For photocopy , electronic and online access , and republication requests , go to the Copyright Clearance Center. Enter the book title within the " Get Permission " search field.
To translate this book, contact permissions ascd. Ideas from the Field. If your answer is no, there is absolutely no need to fret. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear. That means we have 1, daily opportunities to make a positive impact. Schuller "The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity, the optimist sees opportunity in every difficulty. This may not be happiness, but it is greatness.
I am a product of my decisions. And when they are, we find hope in the thought that things are so bad they have to get better. Forbes "Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. The second best time is now. To keep your balance, you must keep moving. The more experiments you make the better. You should focus on why perhaps you can, and be one of the exceptions. Wishing is not enough; we must do. Where there is love and inspiration, I don't think you can go wrong. You must create that time and greatness will follow.
Passaro "We generate fears while we sit. We overcome them by action.