It’s not all about the grades. We’ve heard that often enough. So what is it all about? The ‘C’ students can potentially go further than the so called academic student. What I mean is, that student that has developed the soft skills: collaboration, connectedness, creativity. The skills that students are quietly picking up along the way when they are given the time and the confidence that they can work independently. So bring in the student with some learning needs.
This is the student that struggles with hand writing, but the iPad has helped him overcome this weakness. He has anomalies in that he is confident and anxious. Connected yet challenged. Interested yet disengaged.
I’ll get to my point.
The drama teacher at our school saw potential in this student to do the speech board exam. His confident side thought it was an awesome idea and he jumped onto Google and combined his love of history with his love of sport. These two combined, he quickly put a speech together based on the ’81 Springbok tour of New Zealand. This was based on what he was studying in history.
The day before the speech was due to be memorised and presented to the group the confident side disappeared. The anxieties were palpable. His verdict: “I can’t do this. I can’t memorise this speech!”
The English teacher in me kicked in. I’ve been teaching English for 25 years. I know what I’m talking about. As I was about to launch into the ” depend on me ” tactic, I saw another palpable change in this student.
I’ll get my iPad to read my speech to me!
And that’s exactly what he did. Quick as a flash he went to Settings. Accessibility. Voice over. And so for the next while he had the iPad read his speech to him over and over and over. This was his way of calming his nerves and getting the speech into his head, without having to read it himself. The work was authentically his, he just needed help reading the content.
I felt immense pride when I heard him the next day. Rehearsing the speech outside my classroom with the so called academic students.
The point of this post? Here we have a student who is challenged academically. But he has developed flexible thinking. He has developed problem solving and independence. He took a problem and he found a solution. Not an ‘A’ student but a fantastic ‘C’ student.