We are nearing the end of our blog series on the 13 tips identified in a study conducted by the Marzano Research Laboratory (MRL). Tip #12 identifies the need to treat all students equally.
About the study
The study, A Study of Best Practices in Edmentum Online Solutions, evaluated the relationship between student learning and effective teacher pedagogical practices in online learning. The study specifically looked at Edmentum’s online solutions in three instructional settings—pure virtual, blended, and classroom/lab—across four purposes: original credit, credit recovery, intervention, and Advanced Placement®.
Tip #12: Treating all students equally
Let’s be honest—this might be the most difficult best practice in this whole series because it goes against basic human nature. Even the most patient and kind teacher may take a sigh of relief when certain students are absent. Others find it difficult to call on everyone in the class equally, skipping some students for a variety of reasons. Also, some teachers seem to always give the extra opportunities to the students who have demonstrated that they can handle them.
These teaching bad habits just seem to make the days go more smoothly. But for the betterment of every student, they need to be stopped.
What are some common situations teachers experience making it difficult to treat students equally?
First, there are certain students who thrive on attention—usually with negative consequences. The natural tendency of teachers is to deny them that attention, so they don’t call on those students in discussions and try to put them in the most benign small group possible. Meanwhile these students, who are probably masking struggles with their social difficulty, are denied opportunities to progress.
Other students are just forgettable. There is nothing notable about them, from their personalities to their dress. They are probably quiet and stay near the back of the room. So they are occasionally forgotten.
It’s natural for teachers to want to spend the bulk of their time with the students who make teaching worthwhile. These students want to learn and gratefully scoop up any knowledge the teacher drops. They tend to receive the bulk of attention that the previous two categories don’t obtain.
How can teachers overcome these situations and treat students equally?
There are varieties of strategies to make sure that everyone receives equal, random attention in class. Most have to do with ways to randomly draw students’ names out of a hat, dish, etc. It’s important to establish this precedent early in the school year so that everyone knows they can’t hide from your attention.
Another tactic is to make it a point of having short student conferences with everyone periodically throughout the school year. It’s a good way to reconnect with students who perhaps haven’t received as much attention recently.
In a blended learning environment, it’s actually easier to connect with every student because of the differentiation capabilities and that there are fewer whole-group exercises. More small-group and individual work means more time for teachers to circulate the room. Just make sure you circulate the entire room. It’s also easier to monitor work, which means there are more opportunities to notice something worth bringing up with students.
Want to see more of the instructional strategies the Marzano Research Laboratory determined in their study? See all 13 Marzano best practices in online learning here.
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