I recently read a post by Michael, a math teacher, who brought up the topic of teaching “smarter” kids. (http://rationalexpressions.blogspot.ca/2013/02/strong-kids-v-weak-kids.html) After realizing that there was whole spectrum of different opinions on the topic, he had this to say:
Can anyone explain how there’s a disagreement this wide across the profession? Why does it seem straightforward to me that teaching students of low ability is harder, more challenging than teaching students of high ability? Why does it seem straightforward to others that this is a pernicious belief that ought to be challenged?
Is it harder? Is it straightforward? Do the majority of teachers feel this way? On his blog, he print screened a number of tweets responding to a teacher’s post. Who are these people responding? Are they even teachers? Is it a biased opinion? How many teachers are on twitter? Maybe some people are better at handling kids with low ability and thus, find them easier? What is going on!??! I’m scared! What if I’m not able to handle kids with low abilities! Gah!
Soooo, these were the thoughts that were running through my mind as I read his post. Mainly fear and the feeling of overwhelm. Once I got over this inconvenient phase, I re-read his post and really thought about it. If someone were to ask me which student would be harder to teach: a high-academic student or a low-academic student, I would have said the low-academic student in a heart beat. I wouldn’t have hesitated and this is why I instantly agreed with Michael. Of course it’s harder! There are so many issues that influence why a student is not performing well, that, as a teacher, can be difficult to handle. But the more I pondered that question, I reminded myself of my own experience in my short practicum.
As an upcoming teacher, I was terrified of my short practicum. I was worried about my ability to connect with the low-academic students. However, what I found was that the high-academic students were the hardest to deal with. They were the ones who resisted me, challenged me, questioned me, and quite frankly pissed me off. At one point, my mentor even had to step in because he could see I was having a tough time with them. Granted, it probably was my lack of class management, lack of confidence, and lack of structure. I can willingly say that my practicum went wonky due to the fact that I was thrown in without a life jacket, without swimming skills right into the deep end. And, in my experience so far, I saw how teaching high-academic students was hard.
BUT, I also have limited experience; don’t really know what I’m talking about; still don’t really know what I’m doing in class. Soooo, what is my opinion on this matter. Do I disagree or agree? What is the question, again? I guess, Michael, the question isn’t so straightforward as you might think.