My Sweet Outlier

In response to The Daily Post one word “Outlier”.

student at a desk

Teaching and working with students, you come to expect the outlier. The one or two students who either don’t quite reach or those that reach beyond the expected outcomes. We’ve all seen them, in all aspects of life, not just the classroom. I can tell you though, they do make our heads spin, don’t they?!

My outliers didn’t want to read or they read too much. They didn’t want to speak, or they spoke too much. My lessons often reached the middle but didn’t do enough to reach those on the outskirts, the ones that didn’t quite fit into the box.  Teachers try to differentiate and work to engage those pushed to the sides but it is difficult. How do you challenge without overworking? How do you simplify without dumbing down?

group work

Often we were told ‘Don’t make it too boring, don’t make it too exciting. Don’t be the outlier as teachers go, so you can reach the outliers as students go.’ But isn’t that just mediocrity? So change it up, remove the paper/pencil assessment, go for the project based learning. Forget the cookie cutter recipe and go for the inquiry based opportunity. Remove yourself from the classroom and go for the field experience. Let them write, let them draw. Let them choose their own outcome. But what of my objectives, my standards? Where does my grading end and creativity begin?

How far can I go before I lose sight of my goal? Random thoughts of a once upon a time teacher.



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