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Jan 24, 2010

Posted by in Featured, Lessons for Teacher | 2 Comments

Beyond the Blind Side: Harnessing a Child’s Learning Style

Every once in a while a movie comes my way that makes me realize the extent of my powers as an educator. The film The Blind Side is one of them. Starring Sandra Bullock in her Golden Globe Award Winning role as Best Lead Actress and Quinton Aaron as the future NHL Baltimore Ravens Pick Michael Oher, the movie reminded me about opening my eyes and embracing a child’s potentials by checking out my blind side. You see, as a teacher for almost ten years now, I cannot deny that many times I work by routine alone. Everything I do in class has become almost muscle memory that sometimes, I need to be reminded that not all students learn the same way. In essence, I tend to forget to check my blind side to see if all my kids are learning and if they’re not, what I can do to help them learn better.

The movie revolves around the story of a young boy dubbed Big Mike who, for all intents and purposes, was passed along through the public school system. However, after being given a scholarship in a private Christian school, his teachers saw how delayed he was in terms of academic competencies. Many of his teachers all but gave up on him and did not exert much effort to help educate him. All except his Biology teacher who saw a spark of potential in Michael. Because she believed he had it in him to learn, she tried to find a way to help harness his learning style. Because Michael refused to talk and would not answer test questions given to him, teachers assumed he was dumb and hopeless. However, when given oral tests, his Biology teacher saw that he knew the subject matter. He understood what was going on in class. Because of this, he began to flourish.

Teaching a class with over 40 students, which is the norm here in the Philippines, can definitely be a difficult task for a single teacher. We do not have the luxury of giving different kinds of tests to all our students depending on their learning styles. However, by simply making small concessions, we can help our students succeed, especially those who need the extra support. There are debates about this, nonetheless. Some will say it is unfair to other students if we make adjustments. Some will say that it gives those who receive accommodations an unfair advantage.

The discussions can go on but at the end of the day, let me pose this question: as a teacher, what are you willing to do to ensure all your students are learning to the best of their abilities?

For me, the answer is not always simple. Much as I would like to say I will make all adjustments necessary to embrace ALL my kids’ learning styles, I know I am limited by requirements in class and our educational system as well. One thing I know for sure is that I will do my best to encourage my students to do their best by being more sensitive to what my kids are feeling in class. I think with this, by building their self-esteem and helping them realize their potentials, I can help make a difference.

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  1. EFL Teacher Marta Maria Villar Endrise says:

    Dear collegue,
    It was uplifting and refreshing to come across your post,just after watching the film-1hour ago-and shedding more than a tear.A touching,moving piece indeed.I sensed all you said,I’ve been through many of the experiences you mentioned and it’s just that…to touch a soul,to help a mind bloom, to hold eternity in the palm of your hand…this is what we feel when we CONNECT with our kids,which is sometimes so hard a task!I surely enjoyed your words.They are all and each of them nothing but the TRUTH.Thanks for sharing…
    Marta

  2. Indeed, I agree to your point.. A former teacher of mine said that her greatest achievement as a teacher is to see her old students succeed not only in school but most specially in life. However, success starts in the four corners of the classroom – when a student comprehends the lesson with much enthusiasm to learn and not out of just a requirement to move on to the higher level; when a student gets recognized because of his/her whether best or lack of effort in doing things but more so of getting constructive criticisms to bring out improvement, growth and progress.
    Constraints do somehow limit what you can do but you can never limit what you want to do.
    Kudos! May you have the power, wisdom and guidance to effectively reach out to EVERY kid to build their character and realize their unique potential. ;)

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