I'm sitting in a coffee shop on a Saturday looking over the fourth grade standards. I start thinking about capitalization. So many of my students don't capitalize words that need to be capitalized. This makes me anxious and a little frustrated.
Why don't they capitalize? I have told them many times to capitalize. We have talked about capitalization so much.
But then it hits me--I have never actually taught them capitalization. We have never had a lesson in capitalization. I just assumed they knew, that being in fourth grade they would know how to capitalize. I had given them plenty of opportunities through writing and those stupid Daily Language Review worksheets to practice capitalization. I had given them tons of feedback on their capitalization skills or lack thereof. But I had never actually taught them. I had assumed.
This seems to be a frequent problem that plagues this education thing--assumption of a student's abilities instead of actually looking and seeing what their abilities are. Often I will teach based on what I think they should know, or what I have been told they need, instead of actually looking to see what they need. I don't know what to call this--responsive teaching? Assessment driven instruction?
In this case, I wasn't seeing the reality of the situation, instead acting in accordance with the ideal rather than the actual.
Again though, it's a balance. Teachers need to hold a perspective that honors both where their children could be and where they actually are.