I took my daughter, Leslie to buy a new pair of Pointe shoes today. This is always an interesting experience because I have ZERO knowledge in this area. I have to put complete trust in the "fitter" and my daughter. It's a pricey investment, so I appreciate the time that our fitter takes with us. Leslie is only 12, so she is still growing and her feet are still forming. The wrong fit in these shoes could cause irreversible damage. We walk in and Leslie proclaims "My teacher said I can only wear Grishkos!" (Some fancy-schamcy brand of shoe). Well, of course, they don't have any in her size. After a bit of a pout, the fitter convinced her to try some others, because her current shoes are "dead" and should not be danced on. She literally tried on EVERY brand in the place. While we were there, the fitter told us that she hates when teachers tell kids that they all HAVE to wear a particular kind of shoe because they are all so different and each dancer is so different. She said earlier that day, a girl came in and said the same thing Leslie said and the fitter said this little girl's foot was wide, and Grishkos are made for narrow feet. The little girl squished into a pair and went on her merry way. The fitter said she didn't feel right selling those, but there was nothing she could do to talk her out of it. This whole scenario, of course triggered the educator in me.
There are still educators out there that believe that one way of teaching, one way of learning; works for all. I struggle with this fact, but I hear about it. I heard about it this week. Some teachers are still lecturing, kids taking notes, DOK 1 tests-memorizing and regurgitating. "Why didn't they get it, I taught it?" "It's the students' fault, I covered that."
Teaching this way, like the wrong Pointe shoes, can cause irreversible damage. There are so many things to look at when choosing a pointe shoe: length, width, arch, box, stretch, comfort, strength & lines of the dancer...and so many more. And two shoes, even from the same company, same size, different style: fit completely different. We can't just order them online, they need to be fitted. This holds true for our students. We can't just order up one curriculum, one entry point, one output...it doesn't work for all. There are many factors that need to be considered...many that we will never even understand. Who ARE the learners in our classes? They are children. They are children that are different in so many ways. We can't just throw a "shoe" at them and say "Go...dance."
Our students' parents, like me with the pointe shoes, are putting complete trust in us, to do what is best for their child. So, we owe it to them to do so. For them and our students, WE need to be "En Pointe" (On point) in our classrooms. It is a pricey investment! We need to look at the whole child. How do they learn? How do they think? What are their strengths? Where do they need support to grow? What triggers them? What causes them excitement? What causes them to shut down? What is going on emotionally...physically? How can I reach this kid?- Does this sound like a lot of work? A lot of effort? ABSOLUTELY! But think about what we are tasked to do as educators. Our number one priority is to serve our students. SERVE them. Not throw facts at them and hope they stick, but actually serve them in moving them forward. That is going to look different, with different students, at different times. I've said before, we can no longer shoot for the middle, because there is no middle...we must shoot for the edges.This is when empathy comes into play. When we are planning activities and lessons, we need to be cognizant of who our audience is, who are our learners and how can we help them move forward. It takes time, we want to get it right, get the right shoe...for each kid.
I am not suggesting that we create IEPs for each of our students, that is impossible. I am asking that we offer differentiation. That we become student centered. Give students options and multiple ways to receive information, synthesize and interpret, and show their thinking. We need to involve our students in their own learning, listen AND hear their voice. The fitter talked to Leslie through the entire process, she based her decisions on Leslie's feedback. We should be doing the same with our students.
Needless to say, Leslie left the shop with a new pair of pointe shoes...a new brand and said "I'm glad I tried them all and I think I may like these better." Goes to show us, one size (nor shoe) does not fit all!
Mother, teacher, TOSA, GCE Level 1 & 2, Encourager of others.
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