A Unique Lesson About Unique Needs

A compassionate teacher shares a message of empowerment.

Our God is a creative God. A God of diversity and uniqueness. He has designed each of us in His master workshop, purposefully creating us to be one of a kind. 

Some of us are tall. Others are short. Some have dark hair. Others, light. Or…none at all. Eyes, ears, noses. Freckles, dimples, smiles. All different and all special. And how we are wired internally is unique as well. 

As educators, understanding that God has created each of us as unique individuals helps us understand that each of our students have unique needs. 

Fair does not mean that everyone gets the same thing, fair means that everyone gets what they need to be successful.
Aimee Scott

Aimee Scott knows this all too well. Naturally soft spoken as a child, she almost never raised her hand in class. And yet, her mind was filled with all kinds of thoughts and ideas she longed to share with the world. Then along came her sixth-grade teacher, Mrs. Cowan. She took Aimee under her wing, making it her personal mission to help encourage Aimee to share her creative mind with the class. In addition, Mrs. Cowan really pushed Aimee out of her comfort zone by making her the narrator for their school play. By challenging and encouraging Aimee, Mrs. Cowan served as a major catalyst for Aimee’s confidence.

Aimee, now an elementary school teacher in Utah, is passionate about equipping her own students with the tools they need for their individual challenges. Aimee believes God has given her a special sensitivity toward her students’ unique needs. 

“My success comes because I pray each day to see the children in my classroom as He sees them,” she says. “The most important thing I can do is to listen to the thoughts I have about my students because I know they come from Him.”

She regularly works with them to accommodate their unique needs and provide them with the best opportunities for success. But she’s found this can present its own set of challenges. For example, when an ADHD student is offered a fidget spinner to help them focus or a diabetic student is given a sugary treat when their blood sugar is low, it’s easy for other students in the class to want the same things. And if they aren’t given those things, they can often see it as unfair. 

“A child begins to say things aren't fair as early as three years old,” Aimee says. “We need to take the time to explain to children the reasons we do things.”

In order to do so, Aimee teaches a powerful lesson she learned about in a college class to demonstrate her point. 

During one of the first days of class, she asks her students to raise their hands if they’ve ever scraped their elbows. She picks one boy or girl to come to the front and then places a bandage on his or her elbow. She then asks if they have ever bumped their heads. Again, a student comes to the front, and Aimee places a bandage on…his or her elbow. This always brings laughter and a little bit of confusion from the class. She continues and does the same for a scraped knee. Eventually, she explains to the students that it would be silly to put a bandage on every student’s elbow when each  injury is different. She then points out that this is what it would be like to give everyone a fidget spinner or sugary treat or noise-canceling headphones, when not every student needs them. 

This powerful message she shares with her students has reached a broader audience than Aimee ever could have imagined.

It is a lesson that sticks with her students throughout the year. 

“You can visibly see the relief of some of the children who have different needs and always felt out of place in the classroom because of them,” she says. “They know they're going to feel like they belong in my class because they realize everyone has different needs.”

This powerful message she shares with her students has reached a broader audience than Aimee ever could have imagined. Last school year, she recorded a TikTok video of this very lesson, and it went viral, with over 1.6 million likes. Her viral video opened up countless opportunities for Aimee to impact others through news outlets, podcasts, and conferences. This opportunity has allowed her to serve as an ambassador for empowerment on an even larger stage and make a difference in even more lives. 

Like Aimee, you have been blessed with your own group of students who are longing to be successful. If you ask, God will give you eyes to see how He uniquely designed each one of them and how you can empower them to be all they were meant to be. 

Perhaps years down the road, your students will look back on you, much like Aimee remembers Mrs. Cowan—as the educator who cared enough to see them as unique individuals; understand their needs; as well as equip and empower them to overcome, achieve, and thrive. 

Shawn Washburn, the father of four great kids and one energetic dog, lives in Cleveland, Ohio. You can find him at shawnwashburn.com, where he hosts the Engineering Your Business podcast and helps business leaders optimize their people and processes.


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