What a balancing act we play as teachers. We have students that need to be pushed hard in order to excel, others that think they know it all and we have to show them how little they know, and still others that are so lazy they wouldn’t accomplish anything without our constant prodding. On the other hand we have to nurture students, we need to make them feel good about themselves, and not stress them by pushing them too hard or fast. Every moment of the day we are dancing between these two extremes in an attempt to educate our students.
As I looked at my class today during our math lesson I saw the eyes of my students and realized the magnitude of what I try and accomplish each day. My smart students were struggling to stay engaged with the content being covered, because they had figured out the answers a long time ago. My lower end students were glazing over from information overload, and I was thinking about how much more we needed to cover before the class ended.
I tried to get the advanced students involved by tutoring the lower end students. My advanced students set to work reviewing content with their peers. At the conclusion of their tutoring session I had them return to me to check on their progress before allowing them to play an educational math game. I found that although the students had a good review. The low end students were only able to repeat what they had been told and could not make any adjustments if I changed the way the information was presented. They had not gained full understanding and my brighter kids had wasted some of their time.
As I sit here tonight my mind relives the moment and I mull over how I will teach differently tomorrow. I’ll have to revisit the concept and look at it from different angles. I’m going to try to work the concept with manipulatives, in different arrangements, use student examples, and look for the way that works. I’ll try and give my lower kids more practice and exposure and expand my advanced kids thinking by letting them look at the concept from all angles.
As I return to school tomorrow, I’l l continue to push as hard as I can to get as much as I can from each individual student. I’ll continue to monitor my student’s progress and seek ideas to help them to learn. Until my students have reached mastery, I’m stuck trying to find the right balance that works.