True for Us, True for Them

pexels-photo.jpgImagine you attend an all-day professional development course with a group of your teaching colleagues. You arrive and enter a large conference room with hundreds of other teachers. As the presentation starts, the leader of the conference instructs everyone to sit “criss-cross applesauce” on the floor for each presentation. What would you think? Terrible, right? And what if while doing that, you were asked to learn? Does that sound like a good learning environment for you?

Assuming you answered “no,” ask yourself this as an educator: would kids want to do that, sit in one position all day to learn? If it’s true for us, it’s for them. One of my professors in graduate school once posed this example to explain how we as teaching professionals often miss such a simple guiding principle: if it’s true for us, it’s true for them.

As teachers, we make hundreds of decisions every day. It’s exhausting. While not a catch-all, the true-for-us-true-for-them approach helps me make more purposeful decisions. Whether it’s planning an effective lesson or making a split-second decision while I’m teaching, I ask myself: how would I want to learn? What do I need in order to learn?

Here’s something I know to be true: I learn by trying and failing and then trying again. True for us, true for them. I learn through active, experiential learning rather than passive learning. True for us, true for them. I learn through collaborating with others. True for us, true for them. I learn by moving, thinking out loud, getting personalized feedback…true for us, true for them.

Now, think. What if we all took a few moments each day to reflect on this notion and then put it into practice? It’s possible that if you reflect on your own learning needs, it might provide insight into children’s learning needs.

Join me as I ask questions, seek to find answers, and build connections while I put myself in kids’ shoes. 

Connect with me via Twitter @InKidsShoes and @MrsGarwitz (my classroom account).

13 thoughts on “True for Us, True for Them

  1. Beyond middle age I decided to take an acting class. The first day of the class made me reflect on book I once read entitled “Everything I learned about life I Learned in Kindergarten.” The first thing we were directed to do in this acting class was a dance called the Hokie-Pokie (Put your left foot in, your left foot out…) anyway this was surely not what I expected but I felt invigorated and open after this exercise and it made be better receptive to the teaching-learning process.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Fantastic reflection, Emilie.

    Powerful stuff. I’d love to read about an example or two of how you’re putting this into practice. I’ve seen you facilitate so many incredible (and authentic) learning experiences…you’re helping our kindergarten students do things that I had a difficult time getting my 2nd grade students to accomplish when I was in the classroom full-time. I see you as truly living out the title of your blog post, “True for us, true for them.”

    Thanks for sharing your insights and inspiration.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. After only a few minutes, I remember HATING sitting in the “criss-cross apple sauce” style. It got boring, and my legs would fall asleep… Even though we’re all adults, we can all reference back to even the smallest details of what we liked/disliked in grade school. Those were obviously the building blocks of how we learn, and it’s fascinating to know that there are educators who are now tapping back into those early forms of learning to better help understand how to teach kids today. Innovative, thought-provoking stuff.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. What a powerful reminder of how we can utilize our own experiences to connect and empathize with our young generation a parent this article speaks volumes about the importance of awareness as a useful tool. Blessed to have my son in your class…great post

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I like the message of your article, but I think you made some sweeping generalizations that may not be true. For example, “I learn through collaborating with others.True for us, true for them.” Basically, you are applying the same “crisscross applesauce” rule, but it just sounds better. Not all students learn through collaborating, in fact some students need significant assistance to learn how to collaborate before they can learn THROUGH collaborating. Perhaps you can visit the Universal Design for Learning Guidelines to see how to apply these to your classroom.


    • Hi Evelyn – thanks for reading my post and for responding with some thought-provoking ideas. I agree with you, you can’t use “true for us true for them” all of the time; rather, I use it to get me thinking about effective ways to experience learning and opportunities that I can create for my students. UDL is an important “blueprint” for curriculum development – I too have found those principles to be very effective.


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