By: Tiffany Wycoff
There are countless variables in a classroom. It is arguably one of the most dynamic work environments to manage. Variability is the only possibility that is given on a school day. However, we continue to treat student variability as an exception and not as the norm in lesson planning.
This is due to the fact that we designed the education system based on the standardized factory learning model. In most lesson plans, differentiation is a footnote to the common learning goal. In his TED talk 2010, Sir Ken Robinson urges a move away from this factory model. “We have to start from what is essentially… a manufacturing model that is based on linearity and conformity and that fills people up. We have to recognize that human prosperity is not a mechanical process; It is an organic process. “
As a result of this factory model education system, teachers were born into their careers with an attitude to learning exceptions rather than an attitude to variability. Some effectively switch to a variable mindset thanks to a crash course conducted by their highly variable learners. Taking into account the variability of the learners becomes a reflection and adaptation cycle from minute to minute. However, other teachers are struggling with the ubiquitous standardization of education and continue to plan whole-group classes as they do their best to meet the needs of outliers. To transform learning and meet the needs of all students, we need to switch our exceptional learner mentality to a learner variability mindset.
What is a learning variability mindset?
There is an equation for teaching. In a classroom environment, this equation always consists of at least three components: the learner, the curriculum, and the classroom. It is the responsibility of the teacher to solve this equation so that each learner receives instructions that enable them to master the curriculum. The problem is that most teachers are expected to teach within an equation that completely excludes one of the components, the learner: Curriculum / Timeline = Instructional Units. In this equation, the focus is on coverage, and there is no room for student variability.
To build a learning variability mindset, we need to implement a new equation. In this equation we start with the learner and his needs and then consider the learning goal. With this mindset, the teaching toolkit becomes a collection of strategies that the teacher accesses to meet the learning needs of all students. In essence, it enables the teacher to become what Dr.educational problem solver, “
Beyond the skill group
Skill grouping based on skill level is generally the strategy for differentiation. While there is a place for flexible grouping based on skill readiness, we need to look beyond this prevailing practice. A learner’s willingness to learn is a product of other variables that we do not take into account if we only consider this one metric. If we continue to group through willingness, we can strengthen learners’ mindset and not be able to create dynamic, enriching peer-to-peer learning experiences.
Beyond skill readiness, there are four areas where an ubiquitous, often unconscious mindset regarding learner exceptions hinders even the most well-intentioned teachers. As in Dr. Balls Generative change modelwe can shift practice by strengthening metacognitive awareness and exploring new strategies through action research. We have outlined some questions and research strategies to encourage the variability of learners.
For those who learn with LINCspringThese cycles can help you build an attitude towards the variability of learners: Enabling students to see together. Agency through Student Choice Playlist. Design thinking for PBL. Connectivity when learning, and Design thinking for PBL,
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