Meeting Students Where They Are: Expectations vs. Reality
Updated: Jan 12
As educators, one of the most important things we can do is to meet students where they are. This means understanding and addressing the unique needs, backgrounds, and experiences of each individual learner. When we fail to do this, we risk leaving some students behind and not giving them the support they need to succeed.
Students may not be where we think they should be.
One of the biggest challenges in education is that every student comes to the classroom with a different set of experiences, skills, and knowledge. Some students may be struggling with learning English as a second language, while others may have experienced trauma or poverty. Some students may be advanced learners who need more challenging material to keep them engaged, while others may be struggling with basic concepts. By recognizing and addressing these differences, we can ensure that all students have an equal opportunity to succeed.
Meeting students where they are also means being responsive to their individual needs and interests. It is also important for teachers to understand their students' cultural backgrounds, to create a positive and inclusive learning environment. When students feel that their culture is respected and valued, they are more likely to be engaged in the learning process and to feel a sense of belonging in the classroom. This can be done by incorporating multicultural literature, art and music into the curriculum and having open dialogue about different cultures in the classroom.
Meeting students where they are also means understanding that students come with different levels of maturity, emotional and social development and the capability to cope with different situations. Teachers can support students by creating a safe, supportive and caring classroom environment that encourages open and honest communication. This can help to promote emotional well-being in the classroom, which can have a positive impact on academic performance.
Another important aspect of meeting students where they are is providing them with opportunities to learn at their own pace.
This can allow students to take ownership of their own learning, and can help to build a sense of autonomy and self-efficacy.
Additionally, meeting students where they are also means being responsive to their changing needs over time. As students grow and develop, their needs will change, and it is important for educators to be aware of these changes and to adjust their teaching accordingly.
All in all, meeting students where they are is about understanding and addressing the unique needs and experiences of each individual learner. When we take the time to do this, we can create an inclusive, supportive and empowering learning environment that can help all students to succeed. It is not only important to do this in the primary, middle and high school levels but it continues throughout the student's entire educational career. As educators, we have a responsibility to create an environment that promotes equity, inclusivity and support for all students, regardless of their background or experiences.
By truly meeting students where they are, we can help to close the achievement gap and provide every student with an equal opportunity to succeed.