Albert Einstein said it best that, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” Similar to having your own unique fingerprint, when it comes to teaching, we need to internalize the fact that every child has his or her own style of learning. The antiquated mentality of teaching a ‘one-size-fits-all’ lesson is no longer looked at as the standard for our future leaders of tomorrow. Instead, every lesson, every subject, and every classroom needs to be tailored for our students’ needs. Just ask yourself how many times you’ve had to restructure a lesson or change your style of teaching just so your students could hit their daily objectives? The answer itself solidifies that we as educators need to be adaptive and welcoming to change. Because of this, it will be incredibly beneficial for teachers to incorporate the strategy ‘differentiated instructions’ into their lesson plan.
Let’s start off by defining differentiated instruction. Differentiated instruction, also known as differentiated learning, is a framework and philosophy for effective teaching that involves individualized aid and support through a more personalized one-on-one student learning environment. The method itself, often executed during the end of the class, is designed to deliver instructional information that can best reach each student’s learning abilities.
While differentiated instruction adds additional effort to a teacher’s schedule, educators have to understand the benefit this can have for the success of their students. To put it simply, students will be able to grasp the knowledge and lessons taught in their classroom through revisited lessons and specialized instructions depending on their academic status. This is crucial for those students who have a consistent history of underperforming, especially in the areas of Reading or Mathematics.
So what does it look like? How do teachers incorporate differentiated instructions into their classes?
First and foremost, a teacher needs to conceptualize the overall layout of their day. If time management is a problem, make sure that is addressed before incorporating differentiated instruction into the daily schedule. Any type of change without fixing time management can hinder the success of a teacher’s objectives and student achievement. Once a teacher has holistically framed their day, block out thirty to forty minutes for differentiated learning. During this time, the students will be split into three groups. To effectively impact the student achievement, break up the class into three groups based off of the standardize test scores. These groups will allow an educator to see their high performing students and their low performing scholars. In these three groups, each of these students will be required to hit a planned objective that will enhance their individual learning. To enhance this process, create three different centers in your classroom:
- Teacher Led (one-on-one individualized teaching)
- Group Work
- Independent Work
To best optimize these groups and instructional strategies, pinpoint areas of weakness based on student performance surrounding instructional lessons or standardized testing. Then create various mini-lessons or assessments to test student learning. While a teacher is essentially planning three different mini-lessons, try to create material and modules similar to one another so there is not miscommunication about the overall information.
Now with differentiated instruction lessons try and incorporate new and exciting lessons. These lessons could give an educator the insight of what style of teaching works for each student and inevitably shape and alter the future instructional planning of a class.