As a first-year teacher I often take notice of those students who lag behind mainstream learners. After all, they are the ones who need the most immediate attention as they impact WKCE scores the greatest as well as the general classroom climate. Over the past several weeks there are others flying beneath the radar screen and they deserve as much, if not more, of our notice. I refer to these students as the quiet-learners, those who ALWAYS complete their assignments on time in a thorough manner with very few errors and distinct writing styles. Some might reference them as 'gifted and talented.' They challenge us not with mischievous actions or poor attitudes, but with anticipation for more rigorous learning activities. They have my attention and I am attempting new ways to keep them engaged in my classroom. Each one is different, yet uniquely similar.
At any point in the school day, regardless of my class size, I still need to manage a wide variety of attitudes and personality styles in addition to addressing the needs of lower-level learners. It's here where the quiet-learners become lost in the shuffle, and in many ways they could very well be the reason as to why higher academic standards via the Common Core are being designed for tomorrow's classrooms. These individuals do not need our ongoing attention, but they do require both acknowledgement and optional assignments which elevate their thought process. With test grades at the 97-percent-plus level, they are already exceeding our expectations and sometimes they will not accept more work for fear of falling backwards. They're already riding a well-greased slide, but whether they realize it or not, they also need to learn something new every day to satisfy that inner thirst for knowledge. It is here that I assure them that their "safe-grade" will not be jeopardized, only weighted with greater regard and higher prominence. I am doing nothing more than coaxing them into deeper waters of higher learning. I want to stay at least one step ahead of them, ready to offer challenging lessons at a moments notice.
This is just another reason as to why I enjoy teaching at this point in my life, seeing the potential in students on both ends of the spectrum...and everything in between.