Tuesday, July 20, 2010

How high can you JUMP?

Last year I volunteered to lead a program called JUMP.  JUMP is aimed at helping freshman students who are struggling academically and/or socially. At first I was somewhat hesitant because I have never lead a program quite like this.  In short, we were able to accomplish some great things, but looking toward the future we also have a lot of room for improvement for a more effective and efficient implementation of this program.

As I mentioned, we accomplished some fantastic things this past year.  To the program's benefit we had an excellent group of mentors working with the mentees.  The mentors were chosen because they all have an outgoing and caring personality, and ultimately have the patience and empathy to work with a group of struggling students.  I couldn't be happier with our group of mentors.  They were able to connect with and relate to the mentees in a way a teacher never could.     

Perhaps the most important benefit of this program is that we are meeting the students where they are.  Too often in education we try to force new information upon our students, whether they are ready for the new information or not.  This mentor program has established itself as an initiative that meets students where they are, and from there the students will be able to grow and develop through their own natural course.  It is my hope to grow this program, as well as take my experiences leading this program and bring them into my classroom to "meet students where they are."

Personalized and individualized learning are terms that get used often, but are we really personalizing and individualizing the learning process for each student?  Unfortunately, the truthful answer is no.  As educators our goal should be to address the needs of each and every student at the current level at which he/she is.  The educational process is not about you or I; it is about the student.  The mentor program has started off in a great direction, but by no means am I content with it's current form.  I wish to continue to grow and to develop as an educator, while creating an environment that meets the needs of every student by allowing them to grow and develop at their own pace.  In closing, I am very fortunate and happy I volunteered for the mentor program, because it has allowed me to grow as a person, as well as refined my skills as a professional educator.  I will leave you with one question...can we effectively personalize and individualize the learning process for each student in the current form of education?  If your answer is no, what should we do?