Band-Aids, Fairness, Solutions and My Own Wounds

I used to think that “fair” means that everybody gets the same, but thanks to Richard Lovoie, I came to understand a few years ago that “fair” actually means “getting what you need.” Mrs Saylor, over at Salylor’s Log, uses this brilliant Band-Aid strategy to explain the concept of fairness and differentiation in her classroom of little students.

This is what Mrs Saylor says:

“On the first day of school, I call everyone to the carpet and we sit around in a circle. I tell each student to come up with a pretend injury. Then I call each student to the front. As they show me their injury, I put the Band-Aid on all of them in the exact same spot (upper right arm.) When someone replies, “But that wasn’t where I was hurt!” I tell them that I am treating them all fairly. They usually try to argue so I may say, “Ohhh you want me to give you a Band-Aid where you NEED it?” Students usually look at me and give me the “Duh!” look.  (I do this with all students and even though they know I will put it in the same spot as the others, they usually say a different spot hoping I will give it to them there.) Everyone is all smiles and seeing if I will change my mind about the spot.”

Mrs Saylor goes on to explain to her students that in the same way that they all had cuts and needed Band-Aids in different places, sometimes students do different things in classrooms because they need different Band-Aids. Differentiated activities mean that each child is getting what they need i.e. a Band-Aid in the right place rather than everyone getting a Band-Aid in the same spot.

I used this strategy a few times in my classrooms recently, especially to explain why some students were moving to different learning groups or why some students were working on computers…with thanks to the school nurse who supplied me with an enormous box of Band-Aids. It worked brilliantly, of course the kids loved it (some proudly wore their Band-Aid for the rest of the day) and it will be easy to refer back to it when needed as it will be a well-remembered activity.

So, as I sit and prepare my lessons for the final term of 2011, I find myself grappling with the  Band-Aids I need right now…Band-Aids that I wish someone would kindly come and stick onto me.

Band-Aid # 1: How do I get a totally demotivated young boy to stop giving up in the classroom when I know (and he knows) that he would NEVER give up on the soccer field. NEVER.

Band-Aid #2: How do I get a student to take on some responsibility for herself and her learning at home, when nobody else will, and when all the “Band-Aids” I have already tried have slithered off into a forgotten heap on her floor?

Band-Aid # 3: I wish when I started out teaching all those years ago, that I knew what I know now.  I know it takes time to learn and grow as a teacher, but in retrospect I would have helped so many children so differently. I need a band aid for my guilt.

If you happen to have the right Band-Aid for me, please let me know. Could you possibly make sure it is the tough, long-lasting kind?

Find the full link to Mrs Saylor’s article over here



This entry was posted in About me, Dilemmas, Inspiration, Kids, Life, Parenting Tips, Resillience, Teaching Ideas. Bookmark the permalink.

30 Responses to Band-Aids, Fairness, Solutions and My Own Wounds

  1. Linx says:

    Don’t we all wish as mothers and teachers we knew the ‘Band Aid’ techniques all the years ago! But we have to know that the kids are our teachers too- and each of our children and pupils were meant to be in our lives at that precise time- meanwhile I could also do with some guilt band aids- when u dish them out !!!

  2. CarolL says:

    Great strategy. I could use this one with my kids at home when they become so demanding of attention. Well done.

  3. ladyteacher says:

    Another great post with lots to think about. All of us teachers need those bandaids you talk about and I wish it was so easy as going out and buying a box of them. It would make our jobs easier for sure

  4. Lub says:

    As a mother, I would say that the best bandaid is unconditional love and understanding. It goes a long way and lasts for ever :). Maybe as a teacher, you need more than that.

  5. GERALD says:

    What an inspiring message (and technique) – I could actually in my mind’s eye picture the scene and the expressions on the kids’ faces! I wish I had that insight when my kids were growing up – I shudder to think how many mistakes I unwittingly made (The kids turned out alright though – must be their inner resilience!)

    • TeacherMum says:

      I happen to know that your kids certainly did turn out alright – so maybe not too many “unwitting” mistakes?

  6. Candyland says:

    I agree with Lub about unconditional love and understanding as parents but also that as teachers we need to give more. Parents expect it from us. They think the unconditional love is their role and we need to sort out all the problems so that they can love them unconditionally.

    • TeacherMum says:

      Oooh – A bit controversial, Candyland. But yes, in some ways I agree that some parents do place a lot of pressure on us to “fix” their kids problems when maybe the solution is not so simple. Sometimes the problem comes from the home itself.

  7. As a mom and teacher it takes experience and constant experimenting to see what works with each kids. Now I only need to focus on my own kids and I have more time to learn how each one of them ticks..and plan how to coach them based on their strengths and interest.
    Many times it is the environment and the unrealistic demands from the administrators that leaves the teachers very hand tied.

    • TeacherMum says:

      Agreed on those unrealistic demands…but some times I wish there was no “constant experimenting,” only “knowing.”

  8. dillymum says:

    I think we bumble through life bringing up our kids – or teaching them – as best we know at the time. We have to be big enough adults to say sorry for the real mistakes, especially those that were hurtful. But we aslo have to believe that that love that we feel for them right to our inner core is enough to be a band-aid for the times we weren’t quite right. And then we marvel at the kind and generous near-adults that leave our classroom or home, and know we played a big rle in getting them to that point. the technicalities like motivating a kid in class – i have to leave to you! i feel a new blog coming on that will teach us all something motivational for those kids!

  9. expatmammy says:

    I think we all need a band aid from time to time, what you do for those children won’t ever be forgotten… it’s amazing. Think I might try this when my wee man is old enough to understand

  10. Kristen says:

    This is a brilliant technique. My kids, ranging from 17-5, still squabble about fairness. This may be the thing I needed to get them to see why things aren’t always “fair.” Thank you!!

  11. Kathy says:

    What a wonderful post and a wonderful idea! That would be great to do even with my kids, I love that!!! I wish you luck in finding the right band aids for your students and think they are so lucky to have a caring teacher. I’m sure you have tried this with your soccer player, but I have found with my son that putting things into his area of intrest really helps. My son is a huge music fan and when I put his work in that context it’s easier for him to understand one example would be for a reading assignment have him read about a soccer player, for math have him figure out a problem in the context of scoring or a game. Again, I’m sure you have tried this, but just in case you didn’t, I hope it helps!! Thanks again for a great post!!

  12. Camille says:

    I love that strategy! What a genius idea.

  13. I have forwarded this to my sister in law who is a teacher and is having a difficult time right now – beautiful post.

  14. This is a fantastic illustration. I am going to use it mentally as a mom when I get tempted to treat all my kids the same. They don’t need the same; they need their needs met.

  15. Jacqueline says:

    What a great way to think about how to motivate children!! I have always wondered how different kids are motivated to learn… I wish when I was growing up, my teachers had used this kind of thing because I was a gifted child but somewhat difficult to get to want to demonstrate that gift. My own children I am sure will present the same challenges. Going to remember this.

  16. Elisa says:

    What an amazing lesson to learn! I don’t think I’ll ever forget this. :0)

  17. Pamela R says:

    Whata wonderful way to illistrate a point!
    Stopping in and following with vB event Members to Remember for 10/5 – 10/6

  18. Jenn says:

    What a great visual for kids! It sure is easier to explain that way than it is to tell them that not everyone needs the same things 🙂

    My DS loves baseball and has hated reading, so I made him a pin-up chart with a baseball diamond and baseball. Each base was a goal we determined together (such as 10 pages, a chapter, etc.), and then I set up a sort of scoreboard. Moving the baseball around the bases made it funner for him to read, and I noticed a huge change in his desire to read. Maybe something like that could help motivate your soccer player?

  19. Thomasina says:

    I had the 2nd child syndrome growing up so I treat each of my 7 children to their personality and I remind them often of their unique ways. So I will gladly use the band aid illustration to reinforce the concept. Kids love band-aids!

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