Mastery Teaching! Start Where Your Students Are

If we want our students to succeed, we cannot afford to leave to chance what happens when they do not learn.

How to Support Struggling Students (Jackson & Lambert, 2010)

As a continuation of my post on The Seven Principles of Mastery Teaching, we will look more closely at the first principle, start where your students are.


When determining the competencies students bring with them to the classroom, we usually tend to focus on academic performance.  Beyond that, we also may explore their background and culture.  Although this information is valuable and necessary, there are some other noncognitive characteristics that can provide insight into student potential and possible success.

In the book, Beyond the Big Test by William Sedlacek (2004), eight attributes are defined as predictors of future success that may not be typically looked at when determining where students are.

1.  Positive self-concept: leads to the determination to succeed

2.  Realistic self-apprasial: accurate assessment of strengths and weaknesses

3.  Successful navigation of the system: accessing resources to achieve goals

4.  Preference for long-term goals:  setting and achieving goals and persevering in spite of obstacles

5.  Availability of a strong support person:  particularly in times of crisis

6.  Leadership experience:  ability to organize and influence others

7.  Community Involvement:  any type of a community (group)

8.  Knowledge acquired about a field:  a particular field of study (or subject)

Some of these competencies are more relevant as students progress through grade levels, but do allow us to notice, value, and build upon  characteristics that usually go unrecognized.   More importantly, being aware of these strengths and informing students of them can offer an open door to challenge students in areas in addition to academic performance.  For students who struggle academically, here are areas where they may be able to succeed, and that feeling of success and achievement could positively impact their academic performance in the long run!

Want to read more?  Here is Sedlacek’s book!


Food for thought,



Now that I’ve Assessed, What’s Next?

Once you have data on the specific skills and/or strategies students are lacking, one good resource that offers ideas for intervening are If-Then menus.  These menus give you examples of areas in need and possible ideas for supporting instruction.

First up,

If Then Menu Pic

Get the PDF here…


Next up,

Based on the following book…which we may as well add to the Book Club!


Click the link below for the If-Then menu based on the book…




Powerful resource for small group instruction!!

Another great addition to our Book Club is a power-packed easy read by Debbie Diller…

  • image

In this book, you will find answers to ALL your questions on implementing or improving your small group time.  Some of the topics include…

    • Scheduling
    • Organizing
    • Forming groups
    • Differentiating
    • Connecting to whole group

Debbie includes many helpful tips, useful templates, and research based practices that will give you powerful tools to make your small group instruction meaningful.

Trust me…it’s a goodie!!