I had a teacher's college professor who told us to teach our students that "fairness isn't sameness". I have this phrase posted in my classroom, and every year teach my young students what it means. As an Ontario educator, I am encouraged to differentiate my instructional practices in order to meet the needs of all of my individual students. I teach my class that everyone learns differently, has different strengths and different areas of need. I teach my class that, as their teacher by name, I sometimes have to make decisions for them because it will help their learning - even if the decision is to try an activity a different way from their peers. At times, I even need to differentiate my methods for motivating students, as each child is very different in what makes them WANT to take the initiative to learn.
I have one little guy who is very unfocused, and I would not be surprised if he has true attention issues. His parents are reluctant to discuss this topic, though, so while I communicate frequently with them about my concerns, I also need to change my practice to meet the child's needs now. Today, I added this little incentive chart to his desk.
This is just one example, but fairness isn't sameness, and he's the only child right now with an incentive chart on his desk. A couple of students saw it on his desk today, but fortunately I've been preparing them for the fact that we all learn differently and need different tools for our learning. This was completely a non-issue, there were no "BUT MS.KEY! I WANT COMPUTER TIME TOO!" arguments. Phew!
Try it with your kids, whether they are students or even just your own children at home. Fairness isn't sameness. We all need what works best for us, as unique individuals. We are not the same.