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middle school SpEd teacher from LA

The glass is definitely half

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The glass is definitely half full! It was refreshing to read your article as I have been thinking a lot about meeting students where they are and embracing their strengths and areas of interest. My course work in educational therapy has really made me reflect on my dual role as an educator - one where I can identify students' academic needs, and the other where I celebrate with streamers and balloons to praise their individual successes. Part of the role of an ET is to listen to the child, all while cheering them on in order to encourage their perseverance and motivation. It is always so much more motivating for the student and us as teachers to focus on the whole child and all of the wonderful attributes, knowledge, and experience that he or she brings to the table.

3rd Grade Teacher and Founder of Luria Learning

Celebrate improvement, not performance!

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Thank you for reminding us to see what kids are doing instead of what they can't do yet!

I have been using the super improver wall from Whole Brain Teaching for the past two years with a lot of success. All students are encouraged to make improvements and earn stars (which are just stars made with a marker, nothing more) for improving.

Improvements can be in behavior, test scores, reading, kindness or anything! If a student's high score is a 12/20 on the spelling test, the week they earn 13, they earn a star. The student knows that their goal is 13 correct. This is an attainable goal. The next week their goal is 14 correct.

On the other hand, my student who normally gets 20/20, has to get a perfect score to earn a star. Every child is challenged at their own level to make improvements!
http://luria-learning.blogspot.com/2012/02/super-improvers-wall.html

Thanks for the wonderful article. All children have skills and talents!
Sacha

Second Grade Teacher from Michigan

Beginning with Strengths

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First of all, we teachers need to find our students' strengths so that we may build upon these to increase their knowledge. Unfortunately, most schools are now driven by high-stakes tests. The test my students take in October isn't even standardized; it changes year after year. In fact, since NCLB, it seems as if many schools in my state, especially county, are actually doing worse! Anyway, I will never teach to just one test, once a year. Instead, I show my students that I care about them as individuals and get to know them on an academic, a social, and a personal level. I strive to build on my students' strengths and interests.

During my word study time, my students work at stations to practice reading and writing their words in a way that works best for them. During reader's workshop, my students choose "just right books" from an abundance of genres while they independently practice the strategies learned during the mini-lesson (based on the core curriculum). During writer's, they all write in the same genre but utilize their own personal experiences and interests. In math, however, I am still working on getting a math workshop started; I have been to a few conferences about it, but just can't seem to get it going. We have just begun a new math program this year, and I struggled jumping right into a workshop. I use computer software to differentiate but only get to the computer lab a few times a week. Our homework is differentiated, but I just have not been able to start small guided math groups. I used to have centers for students while I worked with small groups, but this tended to get too noisy for me and my hearing is awful; I am deaf in one ear.

I'll keep plugging away, though! I like to make every minute count with my students--with or without high-stakes tests!

I have always been a teacher and a learner.

Start from what they know

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It's so important to begin working with students at the point of what they know. Beginning with an expectation that they have a knowledge and skill base from which to launch their learning is essential to their future success. It is sometimes so easy to find the deficits and weaknesses of our students, and to focus our energies there, but they will make the most gains when we discover their strengths and talents and use them to stretch their knowledge and skills.

I have always been a teacher and a learner.

Start from what they know

Was this helpful?
+1

It's so important to begin working with students at the point of what they know. Beginning with an expectation that they have a knowledge and skill base from which to launch their learning is essential to their future success. It is sometimes so easy to find the deficits and weaknesses of our students, and to focus our energies there, but they will make the most gains when we discover their strengths and talents and use them to stretch their knowledge and skills.

2nd Grade teacher from Pennsylvania

So many times in classrooms,

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So many times in classrooms, I see teachers who refuse to view their students as individuals. Teachers pass out worksheets and expect each student to complete it. Those days are long gone! Today's teachers much be flexible and uncover each student's strengths and weaknesses. Teachers must take time to really know their students on an individual level in order for them to succeed.

We can not put regular gas into a Porche an expect it to perform at optimum capacity nor can we put the same tasks in front of each student and expect success from all. Each student is different and learns in different ways. As teachers, we must find those ways and help each student!

In my classroom, students are given choices to the tasks they complete. This my be done in the form of a tic-tac- toe board, stations, etc. Students perform better when given control over their learning. My students complete centers that are all based around the same skill but are set at various levels. The centers challenge my high students while allowing my lower students to complete the take without frustration. If students become frustrated they will shut down for the day.

Everyone is a teacher!

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Everyone is a teacher! Everyone is a learner! Let's invite kids to notice when someone is struggling, then ask if they need help, and if so, help (scaffold) that person by working alongside him or her for awhile, demonstrating, modeling. LESSONS FROM CHILDREN! (which is also the name of my upcoming teacher memoir).

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