Last year I had to replace my kitchen faucet. I had never done this before so I did what I do a lot when faced with a problem for the first time, I do my research online which includes a lot of YouTube videos. In most of the videos they showed the people using a special tool to help remove the old faucet. This was a tool designed to do one thing and it was supposed to make it simple to get the old faucet out and get the new one in. So when I bought my new faucet, I made sure to spend the extra money on this tool. I got home and found out that this tool, the one that I was told was made for this job, did not fit my situation. It would not work for what I wanted to do, the sink and faucet were in a setup that did not allow me to use this tool well. I ended up using a variety of tools I already had to get the faucet out.
This situation is very much like what we experience in the classroom. There is no tool that is going to work for all situations and for all learners. There is no magic tool that is going to work in every classroom. There are too many variables that you have to account for in order to be successful. We have to take into account the students themselves (our students are not all the same), as well as the content, the pedagogy of the teacher, environmental factors, seasonal factors, social factors, and on and on and on.
All of these variables can play a role in determining if that tool will work or not. We often will find ourselves having to combine various tools to accomplish what we want. We can’t rely on just one tool (or one worksheet, one textbook, one method) to get all of our students to reach the same learning goal. We have to find new tools to use and figure out how we can make them work in our classroom. We need to have a “toolbox” full of tools that we can use so that we do not become reliant on just one tool that may not work for that student or that situation. We also need to be aware of how we can use tools in different ways and how we can combine tools to do what we want.
There is no silver bullet to teaching. We have to be constantly learning and growing in order to be as effective as possible. If we stop growing and just use the same tool again and again, we may find that it does not fit our situation. The worst case is if we do not even recognize that the single tool (or method) we are using does not work but yet we keep going on anyways.