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Excerpt from Chapter Five: The Lesson Planning Menu for the 21st Century Student
Preparing a Menu
I worked with a teacher who insisted that students should all be treated the same. “I am preparing them for the real world,” she would say. “No one is going to cater to their every need in the real world,” she continued, “and it is best if they learn that now.” Later that same day, this teacher was sitting at the same table where I was sitting for lunch and she was talking about a big dinner party she was preparing for family and friends.
“I have so much shopping and planning to do,” she said. “My friend Char is lactose intolerant and my cousin Dale doesn’t like Strawberries and my sister Janice can’t eat seafood because it gives her hives and my Mom doesn’t eat meat. I have to design a menu that will work for everyone.” There it was; the real world and a scenario in which the same individual who preaches that “one size fits all” or at the very least, that “one size fits most” and “I don’t have the time to worry about the needs of individual students” was preparing and planning with the needs of everyone in mind.
If we prepare for a real world where everyone gets what they need, how do we justify preparing students for the real world by treating them exactly the same? The world has changed. There are options and those who cling to the factory mindset of everyone working in a line doing the exact same work, the exact same way, have been asleep for the last twenty years or most certainly, the last five.
We have talked about the student with Asperger’s who lives “Inside the Spin” and “Inside the Fire.” The student who is in crisis is “Inside the Fire” and is unavailable for learning. I do not say that the student is unavailable for instruction because sadly, some teachers will continue instruction even if a student is no longer available for learning.
A teacher, who continues to teach, when a student is unavailable for learning, is not serving the best interest of the student. There are several reasons why a student may be unavailable for learning. When I was sitting in French class with no knowledge of the language, I was fully present and yet fully unavailable for learning. For some teachers, the fact that they are always available for instruction is enough. They never take into consideration whether or not the students are available for learning.
On day, I arrived to observe a lesson and learn that…
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