Is it the responsibility of the teacher or the student to pave the road for success in the education environment?
What happens in the physical education class of twenty students whereby seven have above average gross-motor skills, ten are right on, and three seem to fall behind? In a school setting with a forty-five minute class duration, the impetus is for the teacher to ‘run’ the class as best as possible, rather than teach to the lowest common denominator. ‘Stragglers’ can tend to ‘fall behind,’ and soon enough class is over. This can repeat over and over again, week after week, semester after semester.
What happens to the three students after many classes is that they begin to develop a sense of failure which is confirmed by the teachers continued approach in orchestrating the class. Is the student at fault or is it the responsibility of the teacher to better integrate these three into the class? As a teacher of thirteen years and a father of three, I always question myself as to the instructional priority of the lesson. Am I really just teaching soccer, or am I working on facilitating the development of their life skills? Am I trying to get the semblance of a sports game going or am I forming relationships and looking to build the students from the inside out?
The balance of such instructional priorities can only occur if I as the educator am aware of what is most important within the teaching time frame. Most of the time, those three students who lag will begin to get a sense of failure in their formative childhood years which set the stage later on for their growth and development in other areas of their lives.
As a Special Educator who has worked with students in Boston, Hawai’i, Connecticut, New York and Florida, I place on myself the responsibility to bend the lesson towards the student while not teaching to ‘the lowest common denominator.’ Instead, I find that I am the one who has to be creative, reflective and go above and beyond to make the educational experience dynamic so that it benefits what seem to be the top athletes and those who seem to have two left feet.
Consider our All-American Olympic champion, Michael Phelps. He had a very tough childhood and could have been deemed a ‘lost case,’ yet into his life entered coaches, nay, empathic human beings who shucked the odds and invested themselves into him. How many Olympic tours has he had? How many medals has he won? He was one of those three who lagged.