Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Fair Doesn't Have to Be Equal

Maria Dismondy of Be the Difference has started a series of monthly linky parties called Make a Difference Monthly. In case you missed it, I've already blogged about empathy and respect. This month's topic is fairness.

I hope my perspective of fairness isn't too far off from the mainstream because this approach has greatly reduced the exclamations of "It's not fair!" that used to be the norm in our classroom. My philosophy is simple: fair is not always equal. This was an idea that I first encountered in a conference with Brian Mendler. The team that went liked his ideas so much that we invited him to staff retreat the following summer as our main presenter. You can also read a one-page summary of the ideas and background with some research notes here.

Let's think about this a little more. Think of all the students in your classroom and the individual academic and behavioral accommodations they require to be successful. If one student needs glasses, does that mean all students should wear them? Of course not. If one student needs to sit on a wiggle seat to get her extra energy out, does that mean all students should? I don't think so. Perhaps an especially impulsive child needs a few more reminders and a few less immediate consequences. The wonderful thing about children is that they are all unique and a one-size-fits-all approach just isn't fair, even if it is "equal".

Here's a poster that I hang in our classroom. You can download it here without the watermark. With a few classroom discussions and examples, students really begin to understand what fairness is all about. It's a beautiful thing. I also like using this picture book.

Click on over to see all of the posts about fairness and join June's discussion. I'd love to hear your ideas!

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  1. I love love love this. I truly believe students understand this too. I teach a very diverse class. Last year, I had a student in my class who did not know her letter sounds and I had a student reading at 6th grade level in the SAME class. It was very difficult. The students realize more than we think - they know who the "smartest" ones are and who the struggling students are. I had lots of class meetings at the beginning of the year about it, and my students stepped up. I will NEVER forgot the day my very low student rose her hand to answer a math question. I feel guilty now, because I honestly thought she would get it wrong. It was a very tricky question, but she had a determined look so I called on her. She got it right, and immediately (without any promoting) the rest of the students started clapping and cheering. It was a great day :)

    I saw this quote on pinterest this morning "fair isn't everybody getting the same thing... fair is everybody getting what they need to be successful." So true :)

    [sorry I wrote a lot!]

    Dirty Hands and Lesson Plans

  2. You hit the nail on the head with this one. I think it's important to teach our kids early that everyone is unique and different, so we need to accomodate to each individual's needs. This means that everyone won't receive the same help or treatment based on who they are as an individual. Thanks for sharing this! Love!
    Learning Is Something to Treasure

  3. Such an important point to make in a classroom. Thank you for posting on this. I will definitely be using the glasses analogy with my kids. I've been a stalker and am now a new follower. I added your button to my 3rd grade blog love page, too.
    I Teach. What's Your Super Power?

    1. I love that you say you've been a stalker and are now a follower. Welcome, teacher friend! =)

  4. Thank you for sharing this! I am definitely using the poster and book this year!

  5. This is great! Thank you so much for the free download! I really appreciate you linking up!!! :) Maria

  6. Thank you for this. A GREAT way to explain to my middle child why her life runs a little different from her older sister with autism ("How come she never has homework?" "Why doesn't she have to do x?" etc). Awesome autism resource!

  7. I love this! I found it on Pinterest and I REALLY, REALLY, REALLY want to feature this entry on my blog! Please, oh please, please, please? And by the way--your blog header? That's Janda Everyday Casual--that's my font! :D I'm Janda (J=Jonathan and A=Austin, that's me!)! I'm SO FLATTERED you're using it! Don't you love Kimberly Geswein fonts??

    1. How funny about the font. I do love Kimberly! You're welcome to feature this on your blog as long as you provide the links from mine and keep it watermarked if you want to post the picture on your blog to go with it.

  8. Hi Christi - just found this on Pinterest and LOVE your poster! Such a hard concept for kids (and grown ups!) to grasp, eh? We've also talked about bedtimes to illustrate the concept - does everyone in your family go to bed at the same time? (Usually not.) Is that fair?

    Thank you for the great download!

    The Corner On Character

  9. Love it!
    I have been trying to explain this to my six year old for months.
    I've just discovered your blog from Pinterest tonight - I'll be back!!

    Thanks :)

  10. What a fabulous way to demonstrate this very difficult concept for young children. Thank you for the free poster.

    Mrs Warner
    Fieldhead Carr Primary School

  11. Thanks! Love this for my inclusion class. I will have many learning levels and it's hard for kids to understand why someone else gets different work/books etc. My 4th graders will love this. Have a wonderful school year!!

  12. Amazing poster. I have shared it on my facebook page, pinterest and twitter. Thank you!


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