Making It About All Of The “Ones”

Over the years, I’ve spoken to many teachers about various students and student needs. There are often conversations about “the one” student:

  • that child that can’t read the text.
  • struggles with the math.
  • refuses to write.
  • interrupts others.
  • distracts his/her peers.
  • has difficulty working in a group.
  • can’t listen to and/or follow instructions.
  • and the list goes on …

The question often becomes, how much time should I devote to this child? What about all of the other students in my class? Is this fair?

As I spoke yesterday to a group of high school teachers and administrators and then facilitated a webinar last night, I couldn’t help but think about these “ones.” The truth is that our classes are made up of lots of “ones”:

  • some students that need to be constantly challenged.
  • some students that need regular access to technology to succeed.
  • some students that need various accommodations and/or modifications. 
  • some students that need more scaffolding for success.
  • some students that need to orally discuss ideas before writing them down.
  • some students that need structured social language opportunities.
  • some students that need leadership opportunities.
  • and again, the list goes on …

Meeting the needs of all of these “ones” isn’t easy, and sometimes it seems as though it’s impossible. But I can’t help but think about our school’s current focus on student voice and student choice. In my mind, the key to “success for all” is differentiated instruction. Yes, technology helps with differentiated instruction, but the starting point is not technology. The starting point is the students. How can we use “student choice” to help meet the needs of all of these “ones?” And maybe, instead of planning for the “whole class” and then modifying for the “ones,” what if we flipped things around? What if we started with these “ones” in mind? For most days, I don’t see my class as 29 students, but 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 … 29 times. How do you plan for each wonderful “one” in your class? I’d love to know your thoughts on this!

Aviva: A Very Happy Grade 5 Teacher Of 29 Marvellous “Ones”

4 thoughts on “Making It About All Of The “Ones”

  1. Your question is the proverbial $100,000.00 question for education. It forces us to consider what effective pedagogy, i.e. good teaching, is all about.

    I have no real answers for you. On the other hand, your question forces us as teachers to be better for *each* of our students.

    • Thanks for the comment! I’m not sure that there are any “right” answers to this question, but I’m hoping that talking about it will help us all think more about what we’re already doing for students, and how we can change, to help our students even more. My thought is that keeping the focus on students is always a good thing … and re-examining our pedagogy is always good as well!


  2. I really like that 1+1+1 idea. Planning for each instead of one is in step with the current board initiative, you have helped me think about my various “ones”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *