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Say: “Turn to page 23. Look at the picture. Read the words. What do you think?”
(Wait for responses. Wait 20 seconds. Students should say that they see a truck driving over a cliff).
Say: “Good thinking. The truck is speeding toward a cliff, and the driver cannot stop it.”
Say: “Turn the page.”
Canned, scripted academic and behavioral programs were created to make TEACHING standardized. Every teacher in every school in every state will teach the same thing at the same time with the same words and the same action…
The only thing is there is absolutely no way to make all LEARNING standardized. Our students are human beings…individuals with different backgrounds, with different learning needs, and with different behavioral needs.
One size definitely does not fit all.
As a teacher, I am offended by the assumption that I cannot teach on my own. I am angry that I am considered incapable of thinking on my own. I am infuriated that I spent thousands of dollars to attain two college degrees in education only to be told that none of that matters.
I can only imagine what my students must think.
There are 32 seventh graders in my homeroom class. They are considered the top students in the grade level. Some are in the extra gifted class in the afternoon, some are not. Some are taking high school and college classes in addition to their junior high school menu of work. Some are artists. Others are athletes.
Some are fluent writers who could be easily published today. Others struggle to write a complete sentence.
One boy recently considered suicide.
One girl is struggling with her sexuality.
One boy sits waiting for his mother’s long journey to citizenship to end so that they can be reunited in America.
One girl confided in me that her father recently lost his job and that the family is hurting for money.
One boy was taken from his mother and father, placed in a group home, shipped off to another group home, and then returned to re-assimilate into our school.
One girl still suffers from the aneurysm discovered at the base of her brain when she was five.
One boy deals with Tourette’s Syndrome and randomly, uncontrollably grunts and squeaks.
One girl is a cutter.
One boy was only recently introduced to his father, a man who never knew he even had a son.
And this is only in my homeroom class.
There are over 100 more kids who sit in my class at one time or another during the school day. Academically high and low and lots of variations in-between. Behaviorally focused and distracted and some simply out of control. Special education, gifted, and globally slow learners. Dealing with death and unemployment and parents in jail.
There is no such thing as a standardized student. No scripted curriculum from any think tank in a place far from my school community is going to adequately meet the specific needs of each of my kids.
The only education that WILL make a difference – a real difference – is that which is created, implemented, and tweaked by the teacher for each child sitting before him.
Turn the page.
Copyright, Tim Ramsey, 2020.
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