The struggle to reach them all

The struggle to reach them all

My battle to effectively facilitate the learning of a second (or third for some of my students) language is waged each and every day in my classroom.  But the battle always starts with a greeting and a smile.  It is so important for students to feel safe and welcomed in my learning environment, so I wait at the door for each of them, greet them by name and try to make them feel at home.  This greeting always seems to give me an insight into their day thus far.  They communicate so much to me in the way they respond and their body language.  Every piece of information helps as I figure out how to proceed with the next 45 minute class period.  A sincere greeting also communicates to my students that the battle to learn is shared amongst us, not something that divides us.  

We do a variety of different activities in class, but more important than what we do is why we do it.  I need to plan for and think about each of my classes a little differently.  Even though I teach several sections of the same class, so many things can change my instruction.  Class size, learning preferences, interests, time of day, etc. all affect our students and our ability to connect with them and facilitate learning.  I need to be able to explain why I chose each activity we did in class to my students, my parents, and my administration.  And because it is an activity mandated by a curriculum guide, or it was fun last year, or it is in the textbook are not acceptable answers.  This experience is about learning and the kids.  It is not about me.  It is not about what I like or what is easy.  It is not about making sure each kid gets the exact same thing.  It is about getting each individual what they need.

This is a battle that I never fully feel I win, but that is fine with me.  If I ever feel like there is nothing more to pursue and find out about my students to better their learning, I have lost.  It is about the struggle to learn after all, not about winning or losing.  At times this struggle is very tiresome, messy, and unnerving but when you connect with a student, elicit a smile when they are having a bad day, or watch the light bulb turn on at last, you know it was worth it.

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  1. Caleb Bloodworth July 10, 2013 at 6:06 PM - Reply

    Just to echo what Heidi said, there are a fair number of educators out there who are still not as devoted to differentiation as it sounds like you are. Keep up the great work! Adelante

    • Garnet Hillman July 11, 2013 at 10:40 AM - Reply

      Differentiation is one of my passions, glad it came through in the post! Thanks for reading and commenting, Caleb.

  2. Heidi Bernal July 9, 2013 at 8:30 PM - Reply

    Your students are so lucky to have you for their teacher! You strive to build relationships, which then can form the basis for learning. Without getting to know your students and their many moods and needs, your teaching will only fall on deaf ears. Carry on!

    • Garnet Hillman July 11, 2013 at 10:39 AM - Reply

      Thanks Heidi! It is definitely not a perfect system, but I just make sure I am actively learning about them throughout the year. Thanks for the comments!

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