Friday, July 3, 2015

One Size Doesn't Fit All

If you have ever bought a "One size fits all" shirt, you know that, while it often holds true in theory, the reality is that the shirt really doesn't look good on most people.  For some it is way too large and on others it is too tight.  The shoulders might encroach into the sleeve area and it could hang too long on the torso.  Instructional materials remind me of those shirts.

As I continue my journey into the Common Core, I am looking at working with my third set of instructional materials in math.  Next year we are going to try Eureka Math.  I attended a district training on it and have spent the past few weeks looking over the materials.  There is much I like about it, but there are also parts that are worrying to me.  And it has been that way with all of the instructional materials I have been given for many years now...even before Common Core.

Over the years, I have come to realize that just because a text book presents the material in one way, it doesn't mean that is the correct way to teach it.  As professionals, we need to look at the materials we are given with critical eyes.  Just because something new comes along, it is not necessarily better.  In fact, it might be worse.  It also just might be worse for the group of kids you have in your classroom this year...but it might be perfect for next year's students.   And the following year might require a combination of things that "have worked before" or maybe something entirely different.

Give yourself permission to do what is best for the students in your room--trust your instincts.  Design lessons that get to the heart of the standard, make them as engaging as possible, allow for struggle for that is when real learning occurs.  Start it will get easier.

Teaching is an art, not a science.  It is not about trying to put the same shirt on every student, but instead, it is about bringing a variety of different outfits into your classroom.  It is about encouraging some students to design their own get-up because they are ready for the challenge.  And it is about giving extra support to those who don't feel comfortable in their clothing.

A textbook, no matter how well-designed, will never be able to do that because a textbook doesn't know the children.
But we do.

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