I was observing my students working independently the other day and was feeling pretty good about how far they have come this year. During this observation, I noticed one of my students sitting quietly. His facial expressions indicated there were problems. I walked over to see if I could help and noticed he had done nothing. He hadn’t even started. As I talked quietly with him, I discovered he had no idea how to get started.
Have you ever been that one? The one who “didn’t get it”? I vividly remember being the one in 3rd grade who didn’t get 2 digit multiplication. Everyone else around me got it and I felt stupid. My teacher at the time, bless her heart, did what she thought was the right thing to do and that was call me up to the board to stand there, in front of everyone, until I understood. I am 47 years old and have never forgotten that moment of shame and embarrassment. Remembering that feeling, meant that how I handled the next few moments with the young man who hadn’t started his work, was critical.
One of the reasons I love having iPads in the classroom is the ability to give my kids what they need. That means that “the one” who needs extra support can get it without the embarrassment of everyone knowing. It also means that those who are ready to move on are able to do so without having to wait on others to catch up. When we personalize learning for students, we are giving them what they need, when they need it, for as long as they need it. Engagement comes when we give students voice and choice. It is hard to hear the student’s voice when we are the ones doing all of the talking.
I think it’s important for us all to remember those times when we were “the one”. How we handle situations when students struggle can make the difference in how that student sees himself/herself as a learner for many years to come. Utilizing technology with personalized learning helps engage learners on their own terms. No longer do our students have to feel like they are standing alone while everyone else moves on.
Today, we will do exciting new things. Let’s get to it!