Wise parents make a point of working themselves out of a job: actively influencing their children to grow into mature, independent adults who don’t need “parenting.” The teacher’s mission is similar: help kids master essential skills and move on to greater challenges. Whatever your school’s grade-to-grade (or level-to-level) promotion criteria, you as teacher hold primary responsibility for encouraging your students to advance.
You don’t have to design a separate syllabus for every student: but do purge your attitude of any idea that “There’s one right way to learn, and there’s something wrong with any student who can’t get with the program.” There will always be unconventionally designed brains in any group.
When you create your initial schedule for each term, realize it will evolve in real life as you become familiar with each student’s natural abilities and learning approach. Be prepared to make adaptations as you go.
You, as well as the kids, have a natural learning/communications style and personal strengths/weaknesses—and likely find it easiest to get along with people who are like you (in positive aspects, at least). Watch yourself carefully lest you hear rudeness where none was intended, or get impatient with someone who can’t grasp what’s “obvious” (to you). Take the attitude that every student is well-intentioned and eager to learn; and if you’re having difficulties with any individual, take the time to explore (through direct conversation if possible) other ways you might encourage them to participate.
Also, don’t take an “I’m in charge and won’t tolerate being questioned” attitude toward the class as a whole. You, as well as your students, have things to learn and progress to make. Don’t be afraid to let the kids teach you!
Many people see life as a timeline of, “First you get a college degree, then you work at the same job for four or five decades, then you retire.” Not much sense of purpose there. Small wonder people fall into a lifestyle of doing just enough to get by and living for the weekends.
You can cultivate a better idea in your students’ minds—the idea that life is a glorious adventure of ever higher learning and growing—if you: