Saturday, May 14, 2011

Responsive Instruction

When we think about responsive instruction, what do we mean? We we think about intervention, where and how does that happen? Who is responsible? My answer: meeting the needs of our students by whatever means necessary and who ever is teaching or helping. So pretty much, everyone all the time.

To be responsive in our instruction means that we constantly evaluate the situation and change course as needed. We may have what we think is the most brilliant lesson plan; however when it happens in the classroom it is a disaster. At that point, the teacher has to let go of the control and let student needs dictate the lesson. Is that hard? Absolutely. Is it necessary? Absolutely. Teachers who are most responsive in their instruction are those who view themselves as facilitators. They use phrases that demonstrate dual ownership in the classroom: your work, your test, our learning community etc. - they refrain from using phrases like "you didn't do my homework or you didn't do well on my test." The responsive teacher helps students understand their own learning and provides them with modeling and strategies to assist them when they work independently. It is hard to clearly define responsive instruction, mostly because it is not clear cut and at times, messy. There are no check lists an no strict guidelines. Only the young minds in the classroom - which are hungry for learning and shaping. The trick then becomes how to unlock those wonderful places.