Not for MY Students

I have been at a training session for reading in the content areas. You know those sessions where ex-teachers come in and try to hand you a ton of strategies and make you believe that they will change your class as you know it. Admittedly, some of these strategies only work in certain scenarios, the ones inside the presenter’s mind, but have no real application in the real classroom. Usually I find I leave most of these trainings with at least a few things I could try.

Today’s training was mandatory, however. We weren’t there to gain new insight; we were there because we were told to be there. I listened attentively (most of the time, at least), as did the woman who sat across from me. I found a few things that I thought might work, mostly things I had heard before but never implemented, and heard a few things that I felt I wasn’t ready to try or I thought wouldn’t work at all. The woman across from me dismissed everything as completely useless for her students. In her defense, she teaches at an alternative location. Her classes are nothing like the kinds of classes they show on the videos. Nothing. I taught there. I know.

So here’s my question…are there certain kids for whom certain strategies just won’t work? Do we judge the possible effectiveness on strategies based on our student’s behavior instead of their academic needs? Are these judgements based on our knowledge of our students or our own frustrations? Basically…how do we know what will work and what won’t if we don’t try?

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