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Treat Your Students Like a Heel?

Updated: Jan 25, 2023

Once again my big right toe drilled a hole in the top of my sneaker. As the hole popped up the day before I was to head on a trip, I went to a local running store to replace them. (I expect Amazon will stay in business even though this time I did not order my normal pair of sneakers from from them.)


I grew up when everyone had one pair of sneakers which were worn for every activity and have always discounted talk of specialized or special fitting sneakers. As a result, I entered the shoe store expecting to get a pair of generic sneakers. 


The sales clerk had different ideas. He looked at the wear on my sole, and at the hole in the top of my sneaker concluding I was a heel striker. Heel strikers it turns out need a shoe with more padding at the heel. He suggested that more paddding in the heel may prevent my big toe from jutting up and creating a hole in my sneaker. 


I tried on a left shoe with more heel padding and my normal shoe on my right foot  and compared the feel. I was amazed at the difference and bought the heel padded shoe. (It did not hurt that the sneaker was named the Beast. Who does not want a sneaker named the Beast?)


My sneaker shopping trip made me think about differentiation in the classroom. We sometimes hope that all our students are generic; that one kind of instruction, one assignment and one type of feedback will work for each of our students. It won’t. Some of our students respond better to oral instruction, others to written, and others to experiential. Some need teacher feedback, some peer feedback, and many a combination of both.


Much like the shoe clerk identified my needs and provided me with the right shoe for my individual stride type, we must take the time to identify what each student needs and change our approach to meet her needs.  


I will go back to the running store to buy my next pair of sneakers because of the individual attention I received. You want your students to think the same of you.Once again my big right toe drilled a hole in the top of my sneaker. As the hole popped up the day before I was to head on a trip, I went to a local running store to replace them. (I expect Amazon will stay in business even though this time I did not order my normal pair of sneakers from from them.)


I grew up when everyone had one pair of sneakers which were worn for every activity and have always discounted talk of specialized or special fitting sneakers. As a result, I entered the shoe store expecting to get a pair of generic sneakers. 


The sales clerk had different ideas. He looked at the wear on my sole, and at the hole in the top of my sneaker concluding I was a heel striker. Heel strikers it turns out need a shoe with more padding at the heel. He suggested that more paddding in the heel may prevent my big toe from jutting up and creating a hole in my sneaker. 


I tried on a left shoe with more heel padding and my normal shoe on my right foot  and compared the feel. I was amazed at the difference and bought the heel padded shoe. (It did not hurt that the sneaker was named the Beast. Who does not want a sneaker named the Beast?)


My sneaker shopping trip made me think about differentiation in the classroom. We sometimes hope that all our students are generic; that one kind of instruction, one assignment and one type of feedback will work for each of our students. It won’t. Some of our students respond better to oral instruction, others to written, and others to experiential. Some need teacher feedback, some peer feedback, and many a combination of both.


Much like the shoe clerk identified my needs and provided me with the right shoe for my individual stride type, we must take the time to identify what each student needs and change our approach to meet her needs.  


I will go back to the running store to buy my next pair of sneakers because of the individual attention I received. You want your students to think the same of you.



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