As John Dewey understood, educators are uniquely positioned to impact students in profound ways. With this comes a social responsibility, that I would argue, is unlike that in any other profession. In the math classroom today, it is common to label students by their ability. I often hear statements such as, “These are my low kids. They are working on fluency.” “Those are my high kids. They are working on rich tasks.” In a climate of high stakes testing that sorts students according to their scores and achievement levels, it has become the norm to talk about students according to such labels. While it may be argued that these labels are helpful in planning and differentiating our instruction, I would argue that they do more damage than good.
I would like to change the dialogue to be about determining needs and adjusting instruction, rather than sorting by labels.