This post is just a brief summary of a lesson I forget from time-to-time, until I am reminded: When I do not plan to differentiate, lessons do not go well. They just don’t.
Thursday was class #1 of my winter session of art classes. Demographics? Two five year olds, two eight year olds, a nine year old, an eleven year old, a twelve year old and a fourteen year old. Half had taken classes with me before, and half hadn’t. I tried to choose an introduction (portraits) that would help me to learn about the new ones and challenge the experienced ones. But I did the same thing with everyone. Five students learned and enjoyed but the three oldest did not. Ugh. And two of them are my own kids, so they didn’t hesitate to tell me. Ouch.
I did the right things…on the surface. I hooked them with an email, telling them we’d be working with eggs (faces). I pre-assessed them. I guided them (I do, you watch; I do, you help; you do, I help). All good, right? Nope. The three oldest did great on the pre-assessment but they had to work through the stages anyway. Wrong. I had to really spend time with the younger ones, and I didn’t build in a way to connect meaningfully with the older students. Wrong. So, not only were they forced to do the same thing as everyone, but they didn’t even benefit from choices, challenges and connection…my three Cs. Oh dear.
So, I take feedback, swallow my pride (I was really frustrated with myself) and move on. I now need to plan a differentiated lesson for next week. I need to give the new students some time to practice new skills. Some of them need continued coaching. I need to define the choices and challenges for the older students…and ask for their input. I need to structure class so I can be freed up at times to connect with everyone…meaningfully.
I am so glad I have another chance. Here’s to the power of reflection!