Guest blogger Shané Beauford, Director of Educational Equity at IDE Corp, shares her perspective on the importance of the opportunity-access connection in all classrooms.

headshot of Shané Beauford

Opportunity and access are two of IDE Corp.’s 7 Lenses of Instructional Equity. These two lenses generally represent what has been afforded to an individual by others or by a system or structure so that the individual may achieve their highest potential. As a result, these are areas in which educators and educational systems have a great deal of power.

So, what exactly do we mean by the terms opportunity and access, and how are they related?

Merriam-Webster defines opportunity as a “good chance for advancement or progress.” Similarly, defines it as “a situation or condition favorable for attainment of a goal.” When we have access to something, it means that we have the ability, the permission, and the tools to enter the space in question. Access is often connected to opportunity because we must first have the ability to enter before we can take advantage of the opportunity.

An opportunity is worthless if you have no access. For example, your friend offers you a cabin in the mountains for the weekend, but does not give you the key!  A teacher offers a lesson but a student is out sick!

The critical question for educators, in relation to instructional equity, is: Does every student have the opportunity to receive a high-quality education and access to that through a plethora of differentiated resources? When designing instructional opportunities, we must always concern ourselves with each and every student’s ability to access opportunities. To put it metaphorically: Can all of our students unlock the door and get in?

In the Learner-Active Classroom, you design differentiated instructional activities that consider each of your students’ ability levels and learning styles. When you design with choice in mind, you are considering your learner and how they will access the opportunity to learn that you have planned.

Do your students already possess the foundational skills and need a greater challenge? 

Do you need to bridge the gap between prerequisite knowledge and the current skills? 

Providing opportunity and access for all of your students is how you can lead learners with equity in mind.