Thursday, October 8, 2009

What I want for Christmas

What I want *every day* for my kids is a good school, a real education, an engaging and invigorating environment that enriches their natural talents and encourages them to build new talent. Right?

Here are a few random points from what Aee's teacher talked about at Back-to-School Night:

* It took her no longer than three minutes to get to the part about "differentiating instruction for each child". Usually it takes teachers longer than that. If they get there at all. Differentiating instruction is difficult in any situation other than one-on-one tutoring.

* I have never heard "differentiating talk before, but it is usually in a flufy way. I hadn't heard someone speakd so specifically. She said she differentiates for *every* child. I'll have to see this to believe it. For now, I know that she's giving Aee appropriate reading (big delicious-looking chapter books!), spelling (big tough-looking words), math (exercises that are right up her alley) and other work that seems to fit her wonderfully. Her work is different from her peers. There's a chance that each child's work is different from the other. We'll see more as the year goes on.

I always suspected it was possible to fully differentiate a classroom, but the closest I have ever seen is teachers putting children on 'tracks" or in "groups" or otherwise segrating groups of kids who fit into a close-enough-to-this-peer category.

Yesterday when I came to pick the kids up from their afterschool program, I saw Aee and her teacher sitting on one of the picnic benches outside, under the trees which were blowing a bit in the wind. Aee was doing a reading test, smiling (at the book, not at me). When the teacher and Anna saw me, they both said, "Aw, we're not ready yet!" The teacher asked if I could come back in a little bit.

It was 4:40 pm.

My comment was, "Are you doing testing outside of school hours so that you can generally improve the quality of instrution during regular classtime?"

She smiled and turned back to the test.