Standard D: Promotes Equity
Works to promote achievement by all students without exception and assesses the significance of student differences in home experiences, background knowledge, learning skills, learning pace, and proficiency in the English language for learning the curriculum at hand and uses professional judgment to determine if instructional adjustments are necessary
If you teach in an urban school setting, there are many factors that will have an aspect on the students you are teaching. You will have a range of many different ethnicities, socioeconomic backgrounds, parental involvement, and learning abilities that will be needed to keep in mind while planning your day. Some of these factors will force you to differentiate your planning, while others simply may play a part in your students’ motivation or ability to get work done. This make promoting equity in your classroom difficult, but it does not make it impossible. Every student should have the ability to succeed in your classroom, it merely requires time and consideration to make it happen. Knowing each student, their interests, education plans, learning styles, and backgrounds, requires time but then can be applied for the proper differentiation needed for each child to succeed.
There are many ways in which you can encompass equity in your classroom. You should have posters around your classroom that resemble the ethnicities of individuals from all over the world. You should also have all letters going home translated into the languages of the students’ native language. Additionally, you should have books from many different cultures, varied reading levels, and written in different languages in your classroom so the students always have reading resources they are capable of reading. When assigning projects, you could use the students’ varied cultures. You could assign social studies and writing projects where they can incorporate their own personal background or interests to complete the projects. These ideas, plus many more, would promote equity in the classroom concerning the students’ ethnicity and social class background, which can be considered the foundation to creating a classroom environment open for all learners.
The previously stated ideas pertained to the students’ backgrounds and classroom environment to promote the visual appeal of equity in a classroom, but you also need to hold all students’ to high expectations. Teachers should expect all students to complete their work to the best of their ability. Some students, based on learning levels and physical, emotional, and cognitive “disabilities”, are capable of completing different a amount of work within the same time restriction. For example, a student who has no learning disability and speaks fluent English is going to be able to complete a reading workshop that incorporates a writing response much faster than a student who is a Level 1 English Language Learner. This does not mean that you expect a lower quality product; you simply understand that within a certain time restrictions, some students will be unable to complete the entire assignment. Furthermore, by understanding the individual, you will learn that each child is motivated in different ways. You need to use these many different forms of motivation to allow them to succeed. The teachers should always encourage all students to try their hardest, but they should also know what is their best work. I say “know”, because I believe that even though you should expect all students to work hard, some students’ best work is not the equivalent of others. You should always push students to work harder so they can gain the most from this school year. You need to set specific goals for each student and communicate these goals with them. The only way to measure students’ learning is through a comparison to their previous self. The key point is that every student needs to make an effort and try his or her hardest. By holding high expectations for the effort put into their work, instead of a poorly completed assignment, you are actually holding each student to high expectations.
In the past two weeks of student teaching, I have learned a great deal about promoting equity in the classroom. Pushing students who are extremely smart to learn more and try harder, while also encouraging the students who are struggling to complete their work, but praising both equally is what I would consider to be promoting equity. I believe that classrooms should have many visuals and manipulatives around the room for students who are more visual learners. I also believe that you need to spend equal amount of time with all students, no matter their ability, and encouraging students to help one another, will create an environment for all to thrive. Personally, I know many different techniques for differentiation in the classroom, but there is such a difference between knowing and actually doing. I have always taken pride in my ability to encourage students to try their hardest, but I believe I need to work more on encouraging all students to do work at their greatest ability, not just the lower students. I know it is going to be hard for me to practice what I preach, as expectations for teachers is always so high, but I feel as long as I am open to learning from my students and other teachers, as well as taking the time to really get to know my students strengths and weaknesses, I will be able to push each and every one of them to work at their best ability.