As educators, we must always do our best to assess and accommodate students’ needs. Sometimes, of course, what students need clashes with what students want. Examples from previous posts include:
- not grading students’ class work (“Why should I do it if you’re not going to grade it?”)
- requiring students to earn teachers’ help by exhausting all other resources (“What do you mean, you won’t help me? You’re the teacher!”)
- assigning students to groups rather than letting them choose their own groups (“I work better with my friends.”)
We saw another illustration of this in my last post where science teacher Alli Romano shared her students’ response when she insisted they research information instead of her presenting it to them. “They understand that copying down takes less brain power, and that’s why they want to do it. It’s easier,” Alli said. “But I don’t think they’re learning as much.”
The good news is that gaps between students’ classroom needs and wants usually close once students experience the benefits of something they initially rejected. Here are two feedback form comments, about a week apart, from a student who felt put out at first by some of my policies:
I really think that you don't know what you're doing. Now I get a sense of what you are doing. I realized that you're taking a step forward.
Alli Romano’s and my experiences remind us to cling to our convictions when we believe they’re in students’ best interests. And there’s no need to be confrontational when students think otherwise. Here’s my response to a student who wanted Fridays to be free days in my classroom:
Every day is free for you, but I have thought about charging $5 admission. But seriously, if you have ideas for fun educational activities/games, I will consider them.
Image by Dacasdo, provided by Dreamstime license
Join my mailing list for announcements about webinars and the work I do to improve teaching and learning.
The opinions expressed in Coach G’s Teaching Tips are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.