Saturday, April 9, 2011

Systems vs Students

I am bothered by how often the education system's needs trump the needs of the students; I am saddened by how often some have resigned their role to preparing students to fit the needs of the system - as if the needs of the system and the needs of the children were synonymous.

In my classroom, I provide students with both differentiated instruction and differentiated assessment.

Rather than my students learning the way I teach, I teach the way my students learn. And equally important - rather than forcing my students to fit my assessment needs, my assessments fit my students needs.


  1. I think it must take tremendous energy and commitment to teach authentically within the current structure of public education. Kudos to you and those like you who make it happen.

  2. In the United States, there is a tremendous focus on instructional strategies right now. To support this focus on "teaching" more than learning, people leverage the research that says teachers are the number one factor for student achievement.

    While this is no doubt true, there exists a considerable disconnect when it is assumed that the way to get at more learning is to give teachers instructional strategies, activities, and methodologies in isolation from learning theory, learner traits, engagement and motivation, and assessment.

    When we contextualize the aforementioned pieces, we can personalize the learning environment and meaningfully look at instruction. Sadly, the system right now is teaching, teaching, teaching with the poor assumption that this is the same as learning.

    Kudos to you for resisting this and contextualizing the key pieces before moving to instruction.

  3. Thanks for posting. I often get discouraged about not "fitting" into the system. Nice to hear someone else's perspective.

  4. I completely agree with your philosophy of teaching and assessment but I must say it is a struggle. Somehow I have connected the idea of differentiation with individualization. They are not the same thing I know. I always feel I come up short though. There are so many competing needs that I know I have not done an adequate job for each student. I'm still working on it.

  5. I'd like to see evidence that you're actually teaching how your students learn and that your assessments fit your students' needs.

    1. How do you really know how your students learn - and how quickly are you able to ascertain that knowledge?

    2. How do you really know what assessment needs your students have?

    3. How do you adapt when all of your students' needs are constantly evolving?

    4. If what you say really is true about your differentiation practices, what can you now do to help others to gain that essential ability?

    You speak of differentiation as if you can't understand why everyone isn't doing it. But my experience has shown me that talk is cheap and that differentiation is incredibly difficult: not because of the *needs* of the system, but largely because of the constraints placed on teachers and learners *because* of the system. Time, space, and materials often trump differentiation in this world of limited resources.


There was an error in this gadget

Follow by Email