A few years ago I spent a year teaching and coaching at an urban charter school. I used to tell people that every student there “had a story”… meaning they had a situation that required your teaching and coaching methods to be individualized, tailored, to them; single parent, no parent, low income, etc.
“It’s forty degrees out and there’s a guy standing in front of the office building, shivering, indulging in his nicotine addiction. I can’t possibly empathize with what he’s thinking or feeling.
As I walk down the street, I pass an elderly woman in an electric wheelchair. Again, I have no idea what it is to be her.
And there, whipping around the corner in a fancy car, is an industrialist I recognize, someone with more employees, power and money than most of us would know what to do with.
It’s easy to lump people together into categories, easier still to say, “I know how you feel.” But we don’t, we can’t, and given the choice, people will choose to be the people they wish to be.
Mass markets were a shorthand forced on marketers who had too little time or information or leverage to treat different people differently. They are the result of the mass merchant, the mass media and mass production. But humans aren’t a homogeneous mass, we are individuals, as individual as we dare to be.
Marketing and governance and teaching and coaching and writing are built on a foundation of ‘everyone’, but in fact, we’d rather be someone.
Treat different people differently. Anything else is a compromise.”
You may have one team or one classroom, but it is made up of individuals, and if we are good, empathetic, compassionate teachers and coaches, we will treat them all individually… slightly different…. a form of differentiated instruction I suppose. We will try to learn what makes them tick… what their hot buttons are… what motivates them as individuals.
I was asked the question in a job interview once… “Do you treat all the players on your team the same?”… I think the insinuation was that if you didn’t, that you were practicing some form of favoritism.
My answer was this – “No, I do not treat all my players the same because they are all different individuals… but I do treat them all fairly.”
By the way, I got that job.
You Can Do More… your brain is lying to you…. Don’t Believe It!
Jeff Floyd – firstname.lastname@example.org