For educators, there’s one thing that’s the reason we do what we do. Our students. At times frustrating, they have an uncanny ability to inspire and motivate us. So, despite the challenges of the job including endless marking and reporting, the demands of parents and management and the seamlessly endless list of duties that contribute to our workload, we find ourselves driven and committed to help them succeed.
It’s those lightbulb moments when students ‘get’ a new topic; those times when students are motivated, and those times when they simply achieve success in their own unique way. Those are the times that remind us that students are the center of everything and those are the times when we realize that our goal is to see them progress, to help them be the very best they can be and, ultimately, unlock their full potential.
Achieving this requires recognition of the huge diversity in every class we teach; the recognition that every student is different, and the understanding that their approach to learning is as individual as their personalities.
Every class has an incredible mix of students - those high achievers that need stretched and challenged and those with individual needs. The quiet students that work consistently, those who struggle for motivation, those that are articulate to those that ask for help and those that don’t. When we recognize and understand this great diversity, we need to start focusing on true inclusion and planning teaching around a model that can reach every learner. Differentiated learning is hard in the busyness of a classroom, so perhaps we need to start thinking differently.
We can look towards redesigning learning spaces, or perhaps problem based learning. Focusing on the pedagogy of scaffolded learning or trying new and innovative practice. These things also take time. But time, as teachers, is never on our side.
So perhaps there’s something more immediate we can do, and that is to provide students with choice and voice. Giving them the flexibility of what they learn, when they learn and how they learn it. Helping them build on passion, and prior knowledge, and allowing them to choose the tools and supports that are right for them. Tools that build on their strengths and support their challenges. On their terms.
All of these tools are available to us now as educators. Tools that can provide multiple approaches to learning and multiple methods to express learning. Tools that can be personalized for each students uniqueness and help create bespoke learning for all.
It’s time to unlock and unleash the potential of this technology. To embrace it and to engage with it. By doing so we can start to provide choice and voice to our students, and ultimately unlock the potential in each and every one.
So let’s choose the right technology tools that empower students to learn. Let’s create the opportunities to use these tools, and let’s succeed at achieving what motivates us all and drives us forward - putting learning and most importantly the students at the center, and heart of everything we do.
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