Seeing Through My Students’ Eyes

In my sophomore Honors English class, I assigned a pop quiz over chapters 3 and 4 in To Kill a Mockingbird. As I went to grade the quizzes, I saw that one of my students didn’t hand in a quiz–and she was in class! I chalked it up to the fact that she probably hadn’t read, and when I saw her next, I told her I didn’t get a quiz from her. “I couldn’t see the board,” she said simply.

My gut reaction was of frustration. You couldn’t see the board, so you just didn’t turn anything in? I refocused and thought of the most important thing–that student’s ability to learn.

“Next time you need to tell me that, so I can make arrangements,” I said, “Please let me know these things because now you have already seen the questions and it gives you an unfair advantage.”

I said this to her, then went ahead and created a new version of the quiz–this in a printed version.

TKAM quiz 3-4, 2nd version

I learned my lesson that day. Perhaps she was nervous or embarrassed to ask me for a paper copy. For the next pop quiz, I printed off paper copies of the quiz and set them at the front of the room.

I posted the questions on the board and said, simply, “If you’d like a paper copy of the quiz questions, they’re right here.” I watched as about four students came to the front and took a copy…I hadn’t even realized that one of those boys was squinting at the board. Or that another student just preferred a hard copy.

This was a lesson in differentiation and accommodation. A simple fix can be to always have hard copies on hand–always make learning accessible for all students. Lesson learned!

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