At my school, when we reflect on our instruction and plan out units, we are encouraged to ask the following questions (which come from the DuFour’s PLT work):
- How do we know if a student is learning?
- What do we do if a student is learning?
- What do we do if a student is not learning?
That third question has been a source of many conversations that I have been a part of over the past few months. Despite my best intentions, I’ve found myself playing Devil’s Advocate on several occasions, defending perspectives that I don’t necessarily agree with.
The biggest challenge revolved around whether best practices should be reserved as supplemental instruction for those in need of intervention or implemented for every child. On one hand, it would seem that, as one of my teammates put it, “If a technique is effective, why wouldn’t I use it with every child?” Logic would dictate that any strategy that yields great results should be to the benefit of everyone.
But, on the other side of the argument, if a child is not learning with the strategies that are in place in the classroom, we are obligated to find a better solution. We must try other strategies until we find something that works for that child.
So, which is it? Do we use the best strategies and techniques with every child, as part of our daily plans? Or, do we hold back some of these best practices to be used with those who need a little boost?
No, really, tell me the answer.