Essentials PEPSI Elementary Adolescence Advanced CD
Getting StartedClassSyllabusCommunicateLibraryHelp!
ESE504 : The Class : Elementary : Individual Needs

Introduction: Development

This module focuses on the elementary age child.
A sense of dedication probably led you to teaching.
It ought to be second nature to be a great teacher.
You love learning and thinking.
You treasure kids.
You have a dedication to make a difference
. . . and then you find out how complex, how truly difficult great teaching really is.

Success in student management is directly linked to why we become teachers and how we feel about children. Successful teaching and learning is linked to what we know about children, how they develop, how they learn and where each is on the progression toward physical, emotional, philosophical, social and intellectual health and well being. Of course, it also joins with what we know about our own development and our personal desire to grow, to mature, and to self actualize.

Teaching is hard work! A great teacher is a combination of energy, enthusiasm, love of the subject, and love of children. It is time intensive and draining. It requires complex problem solving skills, the ability to understand nonverbal cues, to be intuitive, and very focused. A great teacher is emotionally intelligent and acquires finesse in interpersonal and intrapersonal intelligence.

Part of this kind of savvy comes from understanding human nature; that is, understanding self, understanding group behavior, and understanding the development of human beings. Once we have a basic understanding of child development, we are more able to recognize when a student is behaving in a growing, consolidating, or unhealthy way. That facilitates understanding and working successfully with students in our schools. This is important because children differ from one another, the way they learn and when and what they are ready to learn.

From understanding general development principles, we move to a more individualized look at the youngsters in our classes. Each student is an individual, and each is distinctive -- special! The idea of working with a child, one on one, can and does work, but with 30 students, that individualization is difficult. In the high school, with 150-200 students each day, it's virtually impossible. Somehow, teaching becomes lecturing or text reading.

Contributing to children's lives some days becomes keeping a lid on the dynamics and keeping everyone safe. Some days its hard to spend a couple of significant minutes with each youth. Since our time is so limited and the work so hard, we who love teaching learn to work smarter.

A critical component of smart teaching comes from understanding developmental principles in such a way that we can apply it to individual students -- one more link in the chain.

In the next readings we will examine the steps involved in healthy growth, recognizing ways to enhance student motivation and assist students in the quest for self responsibility. As we see ways that student are stuck or developmentally delayed, we can help them to take steps toward health, self worth and holistic growth.

So often, those students who seem the most puzzling, the least available to learn or make a true bond, are also those who are "stuck" developmentally. It often follows that the pressure put on children who are behind serves to perpetuate or deepen the lack of growth or regressive tendencies.

Understanding development will provide links to more than better achievement scores, better grades, enhanced classroom management. It enhances student well being. It forges community and builds the child.

You should now:

Go on to the first reading response.
Go back to Elementary

E-mail J'Anne Ellsworth at

Course developed by J'Anne Ellsworth


Copyright 1999 Northern Arizona University