TLC Update: Engaging All Students In Learning

Raylene Olinger

Colorado Teacher Quality Standard II, Element D sets the expectation that “Teachers adapt their teaching for the benefit of all students, including those with special needs, across the range of ability levels.”  The idea of meeting the diverse needs of the students in classrooms is not unique to Colorado, but this standard and the practices accompanying it lay out expectations for adapting instruction, monitoring participation, collaborating with colleagues, and challenging students to learn to their greatest ability.  Furthermore, the standard challenges teachers to facilitate students understanding and advocating for their learning needs as well as supporting each other. 

This semester a cohort of teachers working in northwest Colorado districts are exploring ways to increase their expertise in this area by participating in the Spring 2017 SEED Teacher Learning Community: Engaging All Students In Learning. The kick-off day of TLC set the tone for the semester as we viewed the TED presentation, The Myth of Average. This video inspires us with the idea that if we think about designing our instruction “for the edges” instead of the average we would, in fact, serve all of our students more effectively.  

Teachers began the online portion of the course by reviewing resources pertaining to classroom engagement, one of which was called, Ratio: All Students Thinking Hard. Teachers were asked to video their classroom and assess the level of participation and thinking for each of their students. They were asked to examine which students might be on the “edges” in terms of their level of thinking or participation. Taking this thinking into the next activity teachers are directing their own learning by reflecting on the video of their classroom. They have chosen to continue to explore whole group engagement strategies or to narrow their learning by focusing on strategies to provide increased support for a particular student or group of students.  Moving forward, teachers will be exploring ways that collaboration with other professionals strengthens the supports that teachers are able to provide for students. The TLC will wrap up with resources and learning about better facilitating students to understand and advocate for their own needs.

The goal of this Teacher Learning Community is to support teachers in building their capacity to meet the needs of all students.  If you share this as one of your professional goals for this year, feel free to check out the above-mentioned resources.  For our Northwest BOCES colleagues, use of these resources in the SEED PAK can help you earn recertification credit and further your learning.  


TEDx.(2013,June 19).The Myth of Average:Todd Rose.Retrieved Feb 21, 2017,

(n.d.). Ratio: All Students Thinking Hard. Retrieved March 21, 2017,