Social Justice/ Equity

In the first week of our class, we discussed the importance of students needs.’ After all, the purpose of this class and the high-stakes projects are to shape us into teachers who are able to meet the diverse needs of our students. While I observed a high school classroom this week, the idea of students’ needs was very prevalent in my mind. In the class I observed, there are not many “visible diversities,” but you can tell students all need different levels of support, feedback, and so on. About six or seven students sit on the left side of the room and never speak, while students on the opposite side of the room love to talk, loudly and constantly. Their actions show they have different needs for a proper learning environment. If a student has a need to conversate with the teacher throughout the class, this student has a need for student-teacher or “master-apprentice” relationship. Perhaps another student has the need to be up and moving around; the teacher can meet that need by letting the student pass out papers, take up classwork, etc. Think of a student who struggles with reading comprehension. When taking a test, they may remember the information taught to them but they will need clarification on test questions. This student needs extra support that other students may not. Many students need a positive role model/ positive adult influence for guidance. They may be very bright but need some extra motivation to reach maximum potential. They need someone who will encourage them to want to do well for themselves.
The point is that students have different types of needs. It’s important that we as teachers strive to meet those needs to provide an effective learning environment that is inclusive for all students. This can be tough. So, how can we meet each students’ needs to help them be successful? This is the goal of equity, as defined by Amanda Lewis and John Diamond in their book Despite the Best Intentions. How do we reach equity? I think it takes time to figure out how each student learns best and what they need from you as the teacher. It also involves constantly proposing, critiquing, and iterating our own instructional strategies and practices. As we move further in our class discussions in Planning for Diversity of Leaners, I hope to have more specific ways of how I can carry out equitable practices in my classroom. Reaching equity in education helps us move toward social justice and top care for our students.

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