Last night on the plane there was kid behind us trying to learn to tie a bow.
"Make the bunny ears... go around the loop... through the hole...."
I smiled to myself because I immediately started thinking about differentiation. I wondered if there were any other teachers out there who can't get through normal life without seeing things through the lens of a learner. Take shoe tying, for example. This kid obviously the kind of learner that needed the classic "bunny ear" metaphor in order to learn to tie shoes. If you've ever had an engineer in your family, then you know that some kids won't learn to tie their shoes until they understand how it works. Or if you've ever had a five year old with more fashion sense than you do, then you know than some kids won't learn until they see the cutest pair of shoes with laces and mommy I need those and then suddenly they have taught themselves to tie.
The kid on the plane apparently, was neither an engineer or budding fashion prince. After a few minutes frustration he whined "Why do I even have to learn to tie?"
The mom, clearly suffering from flight anxiety, answered "because it's important". Ouch, I hate that answer and so do all the other parents and teachers and kids. But as someone who also suffers from flight anxiety, no judgement.
Then the kid gave the best answer ever:
"Shoes are NOT important. They are dirty because they go on the ground and we walk on them. Actually they are kind of gross. Tying them is not important because shoes are not important. So how can shoe tying even be that important."
In my classes, I will always tie shoes if needed. I think it's absolutely ridiculous that kids come to school and can't tie their own shoes, but I'll tie them, nonetheless. After all, I understand that a teacher-tie can last so much longer than a kid-tie and often longer than hastily done parent-tie. I also understand that sometimes kids just want an adult to show them 30 seconds of attention. I know this because I've caught kids untying their shoes seconds before asking me to tie their shoes.
Still, I can't help but give the kids a tiny bit of hard time. I tell them I charge. I can tie a mean double knot thanks to my dad, the runner, who taught me how to tie a shoe so it won't come untied. So my shoe ties are expensive.
"Mrs. Awesome, will you tie my shoes?"
"Sure, but it'll cost you ten bucks."
They have to decide if I'm joking or not before they'll put out a willing foot for tying service.