Same But Not the Same
In January, my youngest daughter had fraternal twins, Alyssa and Audrey. They are now almost eight months old and are developing beautifully. Audrey weighs three pounds more than Alyssa, and has brown eyes while Alyssa’s eyes are blue. Both girls will need to meet the developmental milestones for 8 month old babies (i.e. sit unsupported, roll all the way around, chew on objects…etc.); however, they have required different size diapers, different formula as one of them has digestive issues, and they both have their own preferred way to be held as they are being fed to grow and develop to meet those milestones.
When they were first born, we fed them the same formula and used the same size diapers and realized that Alyssa was not gaining weight and growing at the expected rate. The diapers were always too big, and they kept slipping off. As soon as we “differentiated” and met their individual needs, they began developing beautifully. These were temporary “scaffolds” to foster adequate development. They will eventually be eating the same types of food and probably wearing the same size diaper. The expectation is that both girls will develop and be successful in meeting the milestones of growth.
This made me think about our students. Not all of them can be “fed the same formula” and be expected to learn to the depth that facilitates mastery.
Do some of our students need:
· to experience their learning in a smaller group?
· one on one time regularly with their teacher to ensure their complete understanding or to determine just exactly what they don’t understand?
· temporary supports that allow students to accomplish tasks that they otherwise would be unable to complete?
· to show mastery in a different way?
Can we transform problems so they allow for more solutions or a wider range of responses? Can we allow the student to chose a level of difficulty for certain problems to facilitate mastery of the concept? How can we expand the access to a task or idea by addressing various interests, learning, styles, use of language, cultures, and readiness? How will we ensure that each student experiences challenges and yet the likelihood of success? Many times it just takes a slight adjustment to allow everyone to learn.
“In the end, all learners need our energy, our heart, and our mind. They have that in common because they are young humans. How they need us, however, differs. Unless we understand and respond to those differences, we fail many learners.” (Carol Tomlinson)
Wishing all of you a very successful school year as you get to know and meet the needs of all of your students. They deserve our very best.
(When you see me, please ask to see pictures of my sweet grandbaby twins! You know that I will want to show them to you!)