A major initiative in the district for teacher professional development is Differentiated Instruction - that is, getting better at teaching to a group of students all at different places in their understanding and abilities. This is a challenge faced by any teaching two or more students, and it is a serious challenge with 30 students in a room. Broadly speaking, two groups of students get shorted when the lesson isn't sufficiently "differentiated" - students needing more support, who often miss key elements of the work early, become more and more lost, feel ignored and left behind, then discouraged and become at risk for giving up all hope of it getting better. The other group are students looking for more challenge. They often grasp general concepts early on, become less engaged as the discussions stay centered around material and questions that don't interest them, feel ignored and left on their own, then discouraged and become at risk for giving up all hope of it getting better.
I am writing two posts about these populations of students. Part 1 will be about the students looking for more. Part 2 will address students needing more. Stay tuned :)