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Sunday, January 27, 2013

My child's needs aren't being met - NOW WHAT?

Staring today...I am going to blog my journey... 

There is a definite need to change the way in which we identify and service "gifted education!" It can no longer be a "I'm in the gifted program...vs I don't qualify for the gifted program." We miss too much talent in our youth with this approach! We also put too much stress on our children when we say "you're smart!"

We need to help our children develop a growth mindset. That means we need to shattered the pendulum of gifted identification and SHIFT the paradigm.

So what does that look like within our school system? First of all, it means that our children deserve an educator who believes in the growth mindset and can differentiate the instruction our children receive on a needed basis! The pull-out (once a week...once a month) programs will not meet the needs of children who can aquire information quickly...or those who have a passion or interest in a specific subject or topic. 

We need an advocacy model for parents that begins with "Are my child's needs being met?" If the answer is "no," then a conversation with teacher/s need to take place to ask the following questions:

1. How are you pre-testing (pre-assessing) students to determine what skills they have already mastered?

2. How are you differentiating your instruction and how do you identify which students get those differentiated activities? - (Parents, make sure that this is not MORE but DIFFERENT!) - too many times a teacher will just "add on" assignments or activties rather than increase the difficulty level provided

3. How are students progress monitored in your class to ensure growth in learning for all students?

If a teacher cannot address these concerns, then I feel - as a parent - that I have a right to ask for another teacher who CAN do these things for my child. If I go to a doctor and he cannot provide me with services that will meet my needs, then I have a right to go see another doctor who will. Why do we have to accept a year worth of stagnant growth for our child if the classroom teacher is not strong in the skills of differentiating instruction for my child's needs...? 

Don't misinterpret my comments above. I am a teacher and believe that most of us have these skills, and we work hard every day to meet the individual needs of our students. However, just like any profession...there are those that do not want to change the pedagogy of their teaching to meet the 21st century learner. Students no longer need us to "teach" them content. If they want to learn something they can just go "google or youtube" it. For the majority of teachers, this was not how we learned. We needed to get information and knowledge directly from our teachers. 

Education is shifting to a "coaching" model. A teacher no longer needs to "teach" knowledge, but rather how to acquire it, evaluate it, and analyze it for validity. This does not mean we will never impart our knowledge onto our students, it just means that they now have the ability to aquire more knowledge on a specific topic than we do! Thus - my thoughts for today go FULL CIRCLE back to the importance of the GROWTH mindset!


  1. It's hard to argue in general with any of this, but few schools, even private, are sufficiently well resourced currently, to allow 1-to-1 'teaching' in a meaningful way. Emphasis on the literal definition of 'meaningful'.
    I belong to the guide-on-the-side camp vs the sage-on-the-sage camp but I am beginning to question the effectiveness of differentiation in all cases (as opposed to using it in class sometimes). More anon.
    I don't think assessing a teachers performance vs a doctor's is a valid comparison. In part because for many 'illnesses' a teachers 'cure' must be more nuanced than a doctors.
    Certainly, the question 'are my child's needs being met' is an important one - assuming that that is in fact a deliverable in education - I tend to (cynically perhaps) believe getting through the curriculum is more important to administrators, government.
    Dweck theory is fine on many levels, but it is easy to see where it can break down. At some point, we have to care that children (and adults) get the right answer - not just that they worked hard at it.
    Anyway, to cut a long story short, how would you change your post in the light of this

  2. I definitely have a new book to read now! The comparison of a doctor vs. teacher was meant more as a clinical one. In order for me to diagnose where a student's thinking is breaking down, I have to take the time to analyze the thinking in a small group or with a 1:1 conversation. This typically happens during instruction that is differentiated so that I can facilitate these conversations...however whole group instruction is still a part of the process.