at the start of the school year, one of our very first community building exercises goes like this:
we grab a box of band-aids and ask students to pretend they have an injury somewhere on their body. then we ask individual students to come up to the front of the classroom and no matter where or what their injury is, we react exactly the same way. “oh you broke your leg? here’s a band-aid for your arm. next…ooohhh… an upset stomach? band-aid for your arm. anyone else…?”
we go on like this for a couple more students and get the anticipated giggles as students catch on quickly to the routine and the response. usually (and hopefully), one student will say that the band-aid on his arm wasn’t what he needed for his injury or, if everyone is happily receiving band-aids on their arms for their injuries, we’ll eventually ask, “where do you think you would need a band-aid for that injury?” before putting it on his arm so it’s the same as everyone else’s rather than the place that he named he needed it.
this little activity helps us to launch into what is a major precept in our classroom and sets the stage for the rest of the year (and we hope the rest of their lives). it defines our core beliefs about differentiation and, more broadly, the work that will be going on in our classroom. in our class, fair isn’t everyone getting everything the same. fair is everyone getting what they need. and, since we’re all different, we need – and should expect – different things.