"....but this seems like it's a lot more work to me."
Then today, a teacher said to me, “I love you Daniel, but when I see you, you make me nervous. I think you’re going to give me something to do.”
These two statements brought me back to a task that I completed for the Personalized Learning course that is driving this blog series. This last week's assignment was to complete Learner Profiles on four different students from a class, and then design a plan for making the work more accessible to them.
My change in thinking came when I shifted my lens from differentiation to personalization. The accommodations put into place shouldn’t be about a teacher owning all of the work that makes learning more accessible to students; they should be about a teacher helping a student internalize their strengths and weaknesses. Accommodations should be seen as strategies that a student can use in multiple ways that can establish an environment where learning is accustomed to them. Not an environment that a teacher as created, but instead one that the teacher and student built together.
These strategies help to build the capacity of students who become problem solvers and introspective learners. Here are some examples of simple strategies that I devised:
- For the learner who has difficulty focusing online: Copy and paste work onto separate pages of a Doc or slides of a presentation. Then when they are finished, merge them all back together.
- For the learner who likes to work in groups: Use programs like GAFE to share work with peers even when working alone for critique and feedback.
- For the learner who cannot think of ways to begin: Keep a journal of interesting first sentences in books, movies, commercials, etc to steal from when you are beginning writing pieces.
- For the learner who likes Problem Based Learning work: Learn how to create “how” and “why” questions that you can write across the top of your work to drive you towards answering a question
Its strategies like these that keep students engaged in the learning no matter the content, environment, or task. Helping students build this capacity is a lot of work for the teacher in the beginning, but the fruits of this labor are immeasurable.
It isn’t more work, and it really isn’t less work either. The way I would describe it is...it is the right work.