Meeting the Needs of Our Students and Our Educators
As the leader of a workplace that employs more than 200 people, I know how different people can be. They not only come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and ages, they’re also extremely diverse on the inside. Some of them are introverts—studious, careful book editors that ensure ASCD’s latest and greatest authors never miss a comma. Others are extroverts—like a bubbly, outgoing, fast-paced human resources director. All of them add something to our organization, and all of them are valued for exactly who they are. So why, then, do we expect that students are all the same?
We must meet our students exactly where they are with exactly the brains they have right now. We must use all the tools we have available to us and not expect them to fit into a mold or all behave exactly the same. We need to mobilize our networks and reach outside of our classrooms. Our students have unequal backgrounds—some are raised in the perfect nuclear family while others are in foster care constantly moving around. All of these students must be served by our education system, and we must create a system that gives them everything they need. One way to do this is through technology. When we educators talk about technology, we discuss all the possibilities and new ideas, but we rarely talk about the moral imperative behind it all.
We have a powerful responsibility to respond to our students’ needs. Technology helps even the shiest child in a classroom learn to share their voice. It opens up worlds and allows us to connect with other educators and students across the world. It also helps us pace different students at different points in their learning. Technology gives us data that we never had before about students’ needs and interests. We must create successful students who have the skills to become self-sustaining citizens. Working with computers and mobile devices let us focus on teaching our children to become members of a global community.
And this isn’t just for students. It’s for teachers too. We know that adults learn differently than each other and recognize that professional development is essential. We must also be meeting our educators where they are and making professional development dynamic, interesting, useful, and creative.
We have no excuses not to meet the needs of our students, and in the same vein, we have no excuses not to meet the needs of the educators who support them.