“When I was in elementary school, I was the one who would finished everything and would wait for more work. I was the one raising my hand and sitting in the front row. Things were not different in high school; however, I started disliking school, which has never happened before. I became also really anxious and started experiencing deficit of attention. I would find excuses to stand up or to get distracted. Even though I was the smartest in my class, I was always called out by teachers and administration. For many years I wonder why I had always the feeling that school was leaving me out, like if I was trying to get to a V.I.P section at the airport where I was not welcomed. Many years later, I realized that I was not the problem, but the consequence of a bigger one. I don’t remember my teachers standing up to explain things or giving me extra assignments, neither I remember doing labs for Chemistry or Biology. I was failing my grades, but really the system was failing on me, the system was taking from me the desire for learning.”
In case you wonder, that story was the beginning of how I hated learning and became a passionate teacher. I attended an all women’s Liberal Arts College in Western Massachusetts. I decided to become a teacher when I started volunteering in an after school program located in a low-income neighborhood close to the college. I realized that most of the curriculum used in that high school fit into the category of “one size fits all” curriculum, so students, as well as local schools in general, were failing to achieve state and national standards. At that moment, I wonder if there was a correlation between the curriculum and the type of instruction given. After several weeks observing students, I realized that they all differ in how they learned content and as a result, they have all different interests, dislikes, and hobbies. It took me a few weeks, but finally, Howard Gardner’s research in multiple intelligences crossed my way and I found a completely different approach to teaching. It taught me that it was fine to feel that we don’t need to fit in one size. Just like this, differentiation became a passion of mine. I describe it as personalizing that one size fits all T-shirt in each student’s size and taste.