March Blog Topic: Every Child Can

by Carrie O'Donnell, MEd

going over a lesson plan

“Every child can learn, just not on the same day, or in the same way.” – George Evans

In my first few years of teaching, I quickly discovered what George Evans’ saying meant and that children become what others believe about them. I would have many conferences with parents and go over grades, share work samples and ask students to join in and share what they had learned. 

I often heard, “Oh, yeah, well they have never been very good at math.” Or I would hear, “Yeah, their writing has always been a weak area.”

Then, I would see the child’s face change from delight from sharing their work to a little less flicker in their eye. I would then step in and say how much effort and improvement I had seen and I knew that they would continue to grow.  Then, I would make a point to share those successes and growths.

After a few years of teaching, I began to share with parents the importance of encouraging their child even if they had not been successful in the past. I would share examples of stories about the changes I saw in students just because they were encouraged and supported.  I would send home practice tips in newsletters and also began hosting “homework club.”  Students who needed assistance or had not been submitting homework could stay for one hour three days a week after school.

Pretty soon, over half of my class would stay and one day I asked why they all stayed. One student piped up and said, “You have all of the materials we need, we have a quiet place to work and if we get stuck, you are right here.”

Often, I would work with students who were struggling and would document my interventions during this time. However, many of the students would just stay to finish their work and that was all that they needed – a place to work.

The things that I discussed are simple, but they mattered and my students grew academically and socially. I have learned that all students need to be encouraged, supported and advocated for. As a teacher, you may be the only person who has ever stood in any or all three of those roles. Remember, every child can learn, and the seeds we plant today will continue to grow.

The College of Education at GCU believes in learning, leading and serving. To learn more about education degrees at GCU, visit our website.

More about Carrie:

Carrie O’Donnell is an online full-time faculty member at Grand Canyon University. Carrie earned her BA in elementary education and K-12/ESL endorsement in 1996 from Arizona State University. She then earned her MA in bilingual and multicultural education from Northern Arizona University in 2000. She is currently completing her PhD in industrial and organizational psychology at GCU.

Carrie began her teaching career as a second grade teacher in 1996. She has formerly taught first, second, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth grades. As a K-8 administrator, she was in charge of all new teacher training, staff development and teacher evaluations. Carrie has traveled nationwide and presented on topics including classroom management, differentiated instruction, parental involvement, conflict in the workplace and engaging reluctant learners. She is a passionate lifelong learner and loves working with future and current educators.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.