I taught kindergarten for several years. Each year, I taught the same standards, in the same classroom, using the same resources. So, why was each new year drastically different from the last? The answer is simple – the students. No two classes were ever the same. Each class had unique students that created a unique dynamic both socially and academically. In order to be successful, I had to take the time to understand each student and his or her needs.
Teacher Standard 2 from the Texas Administrative Code focuses on knowledge of students and student learning. As teachers, we are responsible for the individual growth of each of our students. In order for this growth to occur, teachers must have the underlying belief that all students can and deserve to learn. This belief needs to go beyond a nice philosophy typed on a resume or painted on a wooden sign hanging in the classroom. Truly believing that each student has the potential to succeed requires persistent support from the teacher. No student can be classified as “too low” or “on track” or “above grade level.” These labels might put a limit on student growth. No student should ever reach a point where they are no longer supported in learning.
One of the easiest ways to encourage this level of growth and learning is to understand and utilize the strengths of each student. This idea that each member of the class is important and adds to the overall learning experience is crucial. Students will not only feel a sense of belonging, but they will know that differences can be seen as assets. Students will be more engaged if they are included and valued. Teachers can embrace the unique qualities that each student brings and adjust instruction as needed.
Fortunately, there is a lot of research and evidence on how teachers can encourage high levels of achievement. Incorporating these evidence based practices into daily instruction will allow teachers to facilitate individual learning. The elementary classroom is no longer one size fits all. Teachers need to take into consideration each student’s development and provide equal access to high levels of quality learning.
Texas Administrative Code §149.AA Teacher Standards