Teaching to the Middle & Why Halstrom Academy Exists 5

“Teaching to the middle” is a widely used characterization of a teacher’s efforts in a classroom environment. Sadly, this notion has taken on a negative connotation rather than a positive one. So, if you’re a classroom teacher with a class size of 15 or more, would you assume it’s appropriate to bend your instructional approach more toward accelerated students or toward students needing increased attention?

“Teaching to the middle” is an overly simplistic way to describe what classroom teachers try to achieve every day. Simply, a teacher is trying to leverage the effective sum of their abilities across a cohort of students. The challenge is to effectively teach every student at every level within the cohort. As class sizes have increased, so too has the challenge to effectively instruct the growing number of students who may not respond well to classroom instruction efforts.

Often there are education casualties in the classroom environment. These casualties often have to do with some of the varied ways students are wired to learn. Some students may have a specific learning challenge that creates hurdles in a learner’s mind and diminishes the rate of learning for newly taught concepts. In this student’s case, it is often found that, without the learning challenge, the student may learn new content at a normal pace. Some students find themselves bored repeatedly. As instruction continues and questions are being answered from the cohort, this student has already understood the content and is often waiting for everyone else to catch up. In this case, might that student be able to complete courses in a much faster amount of time if given the opportunity?

In the case of both students, a specific individualized instruction approach could benefit their unique learning rates and styles. If placed in a one-to-one education environment, the student with a learning challenge may easily receive, on a daily basis, the remediation that is specific to his or her learning needs. If placed in a one-to-one education environment, the bored student may be able to consume course content at a pace more suited to his or her learning appetite. This might result in the student completing courses much earlier than their peers.

At Halstrom Academy, we designed our education approach to be conducted in a one-to-one format to effectively address the learning needs of the students described earlier. Often times the “learning challenge” student and “bored” student visit our school after having spent years experiencing learning environments that don’t address their needs. When they arrive, we see that their love of learning has greatly diminished or even disappeared. So, our approach not only entails providing an academic model that addresses their learning needs, it may also involve recovering a desire or love for learning within the student. Many times students have come to us with deep frustrations and dislikes about school. After spending three to four months at Halstrom Academy, they find themselves enjoying courses they once disliked and emerge seeing a future for themselves.

We opened our Halstom Academy Westlake Village campus in June of 2014. Since that time we have established a reputation in the Conejo Valley as an alternative education source that facilitates a dynamic learning environment for our full- and part-time students. If your learner is “bored” in school or experiencing academic hurdles that are difficult to resolve, Halstrom Academy may be an ideal school choice for you.

Michael Radka is the director at the Halstrom campus in Westlake Village. He is available to discuss your situation, meet your learner and help devise an academic plan that works. He can be reached at 805.409.7921.