To begin, I will say I did not come up with this analogy (although I wish I had). I attended a training and the presenter used this analogy to illustrate a brilliant point that needs to be shared.

Parents, throughout the year your child’s teacher is communicating with you. Hopefully, your discussions not only involve what your child is struggling with, but also what he/she is great at and what skills have been mastered. When conversations turn to the struggles your child is having at school, here is something to consider: the fishbowl.

Think of your child- all of his or her strengths, motivation, struggles, creativity, skills, and every minutia of his/her personality that makes him/her unique- as a fish in the class/grade/campus fishbowl. We know every child- or fish- learns differently, but sometimes we can see a trend in learning. In order to see these trends, an important question needs to be asked, “Where is my fish in the fishbowl?” Which is to say, how is my child performing compared to other students in this classroom, in this grade level, or on this campus? Here is where trends can be seen!

Did the evaluating tool accurately assess the content as expected?

Was the goal to assess reading words in isolation but involved reading paragraphs (which is a higher order skill)?

Was it a matter of content delivery?

Did your child struggle with a lesson that the majority of his/her class struggled with? If so, how was the content presented? Did the classroom listen to a lecture and then practice a skill OR did the class actively engage in a project that helped them understand the content?

Are other classrooms struggling with this lesson? If so, are the grade level teachers collaborating on a way to present the lesson differently?

Was there a need for re-teaching?

Did your child need the previous lesson reviewed before moving on to the next lesson?

Was the class given the opportunity to show understanding of the previous lesson or did they need the previous lesson to be reviewed?

These are all great questions to ask in order to help determine if your fish is struggling or if there are other fish in the fishbowl who are struggling as well.