Think of SuperMan. He could leap tall buildings in a single bound AFTER he hid in a phone booth, changed his outfit, and became unrecognizable as “Clark Kent.” Is this any different from kids ‘hiding’ their academic talents, their gifted abilities, or even worse, never getting the opportunity to shine?
In classrooms all around the world, there are kids with amazing talents and abilities that are hidden. They go through the school day, much like Clark Kent, with nobody ever realizing that they can leap tall buildings in a single bound. Nobody sees it because they are learning in a curriculum that asks them to climb over a two foot wall. Imagine someone teaching SuperMan to climb over two foot wall? Nobody would do that, because HE can leap buildings. SuperMan can also fly – did you ever see him going through airport security and waiting for his boarding pass? Nope. He just took off.
It’s hard, teachers are stretched thin, school budgets are tight, and it seems the needs in public education are growing. But aren’t there things we can do everyday to let kids explore their own talents, passions, and abilities? A classroom is not a place where kids are made to fit a mold. Rather, the classroom should mold and evolve to what the kids need. We have to tap into differentiation strategies, learning styles, interests, and formative assessments to address kids right where they are at. We need to teach in such a way that they don’t have to hide in a phone booth to fit in.
Seek out their superpowers. You might just find a SuperMan, a SpiderMan, a Wonder Woman, and a Green Lantern in your classroom. It can seem overwhelming trying to meet all those needs. But, starting with one project, one lesson, one day could change everything for the kid whose pretending to be Clark Kent. Here’s your chance to be a superhero for a student.
We don’t need a red cape, and we have something even more powerful than Kryptonite. We have Google. Lucky for us, there are tons of resources out there on the web ready to use with students who need an extra challenge. Here are a few of my favorites:
Dare to Differentiate: A wiki packed with resources on ways to differentiate!
NAGC Differentiation Resources: National Association of Gifted Education article and links for differentiation.
eTHEMES: Looking for great links on a topic a student is interested in? Search the eTHEMES index and have instant resources to help with an independent study project.
Before long, superpowers will be revealed….
Edited to add on 9.24.11 –> Due to a large number of requests (and thank you!) I have created a PDF version of the SuperPower logo for “I Teach” and “I Learn” that could be easily taken to a screen-printer. Now your school can share your superpowers with the world.