Day 19: Innovation that Meets Needs

This March I’m “slicing” a piece of my teaching day every day with Two Writing Teachers’ Slice of Life Challenge.11454297503_e27946e4ff_h

Margaret Simon at Reflections on the Teche posted this as the topic for DigiLit Sunday.

digilitsunday-innovation.png I am still pondering the quote. Thinking versus doing. In many cases, thinking would precede doing, but maybe not. Maybe there are some who first do and then think. Hmm. Perhaps it is an iterative process.

Another idea around innovation I found on Wikipedia credited to Steven Maranville. “…innovation is often also viewed as the application of better solutions that meet new requirements, unarticulated needs, or existing market needs.” A marketer’s viewpoint, but also one that exists in a teaching life.

Better solutions that meet requirements and needs.

Unarticulated needs intrigue me. We are so busy meeting curricular demands and those glaring classroom needs that the unarticulated needs are often overlooked.

These are the students that sit quietly.  They don’t demand attention. In a busy classroom, these kiddos are undercover.

I walk up to V. Her book and notebook are open, pens, highlighters, and lead pencils are neatly lined beside her notebook.  She is quietly making perfect little boxes out of the square post-its provided for jots about reading. A bit of glitter has been placed in one of the boxes.

How is that book going?

Guilty looks.

This is a student who can read and access grade level texts when a teacher or parent is there. But left to her own devices, she will only engage deeply with graphic novels.

Many teachers have felt that V needs an IEP. Initially, she presents in this way. She is slow to talk and engage with classmates; she is reluctant to write and open a book. She’d rather operate in her own little world. But discussions with V show understanding and intelligence.  Open-ended requests to share what she noticed in a book and she lights up. Running records show her to be a very close to grade level.

The trouble with V and all the kiddos like her is that she is a child who moves to her own drummer. She is creative; filled with ideas and passions that don’t fit school expectations. She resists, quietly. And, she could go undetected in a large middle school classroom. Only calling attention to herself with missing homework.What to do? 

We innovate.

Our agreement is as long as she’s reading and writing, it can be on her terms.  She understands school requires assignments and tests. We meet. We modify her assignments. Currently, V is close to meeting reading and writing expectations. Which is great. I don’t worry about her literacy. What concerns me are the educational cracks she could fall through down the road. Will she get to do the things she is interested in and uniquely skilled to do?  

The system isn’t designed for V. And it makes me wonder, how many students are just like V.