Jasper Morrison for Maruni
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Students with problems or multipotentialities?

more_than_one_right_answer

I have two young children and I work with many more young people, and often I come across those who have been labelled "difficult" or "naughty", or worse.

Like many things, it's easier to stick on labels because then they make more sense.

He's like that because he's difficult.

Just ignore her, she's always naughty.

I was one of those kids. I was the one who was "always talking" or acting like "the class clown". Quite a few of my teachers said that I needed to concentrate more and I wasn't making the most of my ability.

A few teachers, from the age of five right through to graduate school, had a slightly different opinion, and it's something that took me a long time to realize.

Instead of saying that I couldn't concentrate, they noticed the times when I was very focussed: when reading books I enjoyed, when solving problems, when teachers took the time to answer questions I asked, and when I was given more autonomy.

I've seen the same in my kids, especially my older son, and in many of my students, so I try to do what I can to help. Not help just them, you understand - I mean help them along with everybody else.

I don't immediately try to stick them in a category or force them to do the same as everybody else. I admit, in a standard classroom, it's not easy. And it's also not impossible.

It doesn't have to be what you teach or how you teach it, it can be as simple as some reassuring messages here and there. It could be tweaking some activities to make sure that the learning styles of all students are covered. It could be as simple as encouraging students to ask questions and give opinions, and ensuring that you listen and consider them.

For many more great suggestions, have a look at this article on multipotentiality on Education Week.

 

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