The Foundation

Differentiated Instruction

Creating a Safe & Secure Classroom Environment

In keeping with the seven principles that are geared toward culturally responsive teaching and the idea that building a learning community where relationships precede learning, we are well on our way to a successful living and learning endeavor. As teachers, we must acknowledge and recognize two very important aspects. One of those aspects tells us that “classrooms should be managed with firm consistent and loving control” and another says that “classrooms should be physically and culturally inviting.” (JCPSEmployee. (2012, September 13) If teachers keep these principles at the forefront of their minds when it comes to creating a safe and secure classroom environment, success is sure to follow. Furthermore, it is no secret that students want to feel as if their teacher has their best interest at heart and that they actually car about them, their backgrounds, interests, and home life. When teachers create a sense of care and concern for their students the students are more apt to receive guidance, be engaged in the learning experience, as a whole, and are excited about what the learning opportunity will bring. By implementing these aspects throughout the scope of expectations within the classroom, a conscientious teacher will be successful in creating a safe and secure classroom environment.


Definition of Differentiation:

My definition on differentiating is simply delivering lessons that are tailored to the individual child. Through ongoing teaching, coaching, community and parental involvement, and collaborative learning, teachers are better capable and able to apply the necessary tools and resources that best fit each individual student. As teachers, we must realize that there is no one-size-fits-all or blanket approach that can be administered to a classroom full of independent thinkers and learners. With that, we mist differentiate and teach to the child, the whole child, and ensure that we are providing a learning experience that allows each student to blossom and flourish in their own right. Moreover, our text tells us that differentiated instruction “is a broad framework for attending to student variability, an approach to varying instruction and making adaptations with the aim of helping more students in diverse classrooms experience success (Dodge, 2005; Smith & Throne, 2007; Tomlinson, 1999). (Puckett, Introduction, 2013)” If we are committed to adhering to the guidelines set forth, we will be successful in our efforts to reach our children and teach our children.


Justification for Differentiation:

My justification for differentiated learning in the classroom is simple; no two learners are identical. The reality is that, as teachers, we will have to develop and design lessons that speak to the distinct and particular idiosyncrasies of each student. Accommodations for individual learning styles must be addressed via the use of concepts that revolve around the visual, auditory, and kinesthetic approaches as well as Bloom’s taxonomy. Additionally, by tackling the challenges of teaching different learners, teachers will be better equipped to administer lessons that may call for multiple activities to accommodate all learners such as grouping and pairing of students as well as variety of lesson delivery such as direct versus indirect, home work and out of class practicums. Once we can successfully accomplish these tasks, we allow our students to become even more immersed within the learning process. We, thereby, allow them to be creative, unwavering, and, most importantly, responsible for their own learning. Once we make our students conscious and accountable for their learning as well, we indoctrinate them and embed within them the will, want, and desire to gain the most from their learning experience.

Providing a Positive Learning Environment

I will provide a positive learning environment by setting classroom rules that I and my student will develop as a team. We will cover the every aspect of the classroom atmosphere from the positioning of the desks to lesson requirements and expectations. Again, by making students accountable and knowledgeable of what the expectations are, as well as the consequences for not following through, they feel empowered and acknowledge that they play a significant role in the ongoing process of their learning. To boot, because students are involved within this process, it should prove to be less probable that they will break the rules.



Meeting the Social & Emotional Needs of my Students:

I will meet the social and emotional needs of my students by ensuring that each and every child feels comfortable with voicing their opinions and concerns, that they are free of fears that may cause anxiety as it relates to classroom etiquette as well as lessons. I will have an open door policy and an explicit understanding, through open discussions, that will allow students the opportunity to address any issues. As a teacher, it is important that my students feel comfortable addressing their concerns, either with me or another educator that they may feel more at ease with so that we can address situations before they become problematic. I do realize that there may be times when another party may be required to facilitate proper social and emotional needs, and I will implore the assistance of the appropriate party to make sure all children are treated fairly and equitably, are receiving any necessary auxiliary services required for their success, and that frequent communication is broached with parents, guardians, administrators, and colleague as necessary.

Eliminating Fear of Failure & Humiliation

I will eliminate fear of failure and humiliation by ensuring that my students understand that this is a learning process for all. I will implore upon them the idea that there are no silly questions and that if they are uncomfortable with speaking out about something in an open forum, that they can discuss whatever issues they may have in private. I will often ask questions that may require open-ended responses, rather than a right or wrong answer; I will ask questions that leave room for higher level thinking as well as experimental and creative thoughts. It will be my goal to provide my students with the tools necessary for success while still infusing the philosophy of independent and forward thinking that will allow them the ability and opportunity to think outside of the box. As teachers, we must allow our students to explore different points of view. I will be deliberate in my approach and work alongside my students until comprehension is met.



Student Work & Assignment Expectations:

Examples of what can be expected from student’s work and assignments are evidence that they have met the intended goals that are aligned to the Common Core Standards via assessments and curriculum outlined for them. Through varied instruction, students will be able to accurately articulate a clear understanding of material geared toward their age and grade level, while keeping in mind where each student started from at inception. I expect to see growth based on the individual student that shows evidence of learning that can be readily identified and demonstrated, specifically based on where each individual student started. Further, it is important to understand that we have the goal of our students evolving. I would expect this model to look similar to the student beginning as the learner, moving toward, the teacher, and then ending as a leader. With this objective in mind, we manifest the possibility of readiness, eagerness, and willingness to succeed. Just as important, teachers must recognize that we are preparing ‘citizens for an ever-changing global society.” And as we move forward, we realize that the focus will surround pedagogy and content, specifically as it relates to theory and methodology. Taken into account, “valuable information with regard to what it takes to “be successful in the classroom, on a team, within a school, and across a school district” is gained. This is where the formulation and understanding of breadth and depth come to fruition. (Oleksak, 2009)



Assessment of Student Work Expectations:

Examples of what can be expected from the assessment will rely on information that is both formative and summative. We must be well versed in our deliveries to ensure that we are producing successful learners that have a clear view of what is expected to produce the desired outcome. As we know, one only get out of something what they put into it, so if success is a requirement as the end result, we must be accountable in the beginning. In our efforts to accomplish this task, both formative and summative assessments are invaluable to the learning process. The formative component will give us the foresight and forthwith to teach toward student achievement while the summative assessments will let us know if we have done so. Providing instruction, practicing, reviewing, and giving feedback, are key elements in determining if we have been successful in our attempts to educate and produce comprehensive results, before, during, and after teaching. All in all both assessments offer strategies as well as immediate and long term feedback that enables teachers and students to devise a plan of action moving forward.

Providing Students Opportunities to Succeed

I am intent on providing my students opportunities to succeed, and I plan to accomplish this task, first and foremost, by motivating my students. Motivation is one of the most important aspects of and within the learning process because if the student lacks motivation, then their efforts, abilities, thoughts, acts, and interests are being ignored. As teachers, we must hone in on their specific attributes and use them to motivate our students to want to learn because we have provided them with opportunities and situations that interest them. It would behoove teachers to use the personal interests, stories, cultural values, and heritages to draw them in because it shows that we are just as interested in who and what they are and represent as we are I n their learning a particular objective or concept. In addition, students are motivated even more so when they feel as if they have a personal connection or interest in the material. We, in essence want to make them stakeholders and accountable for their learning as well, so if we can accomplish a portion of this goal by fostering and nurturing further developments as it relates to these attributes, we are headed in the right direction. Overall, it is imperative that acknowledge that “some specific skills warrant additional attention from teachers, administrators, and policymakers interested in helping teachers increase their contribution to their students' achievement. (Tyler, et. Al, pg. 256, 2010) After all, if we expect our students to put forth the effort to achieve at their highest potential, we, as teachers, should be willing to reach toward those same heights as well. We are all in this together, as this is a collaborative effort if we intend to permeate the will and abilities necessary to formulate authentic and effective relationships across and beyond our differences.

References:

JCPSEmployee. (2012, September 13). Seven Principles for Culturally Responsive Teaching and

Learning [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IptefRjN4DY

Oleksak, Rita A. (2009). Building Capacity, Shaping the Future, The Modern Language Journal, Vol.

93, No. 2, pg. 278, Published by: Wiley on behalf of the National Federation of Modern Language

Teachers Associations

Puckett, K (2013). Differentiating Instruction: A Practical Guide. Bridgepoint Education: San Diego, CA.

Tyler, John H., Eric S. Taylor, Thomas J. Kane and Amy L. Wooten (2010). Using Student Performance

Data to Identify Effective Classroom Practices, The American Economic Review, Vol. 100, No. 2,

Papers and Proceedings of the One Hundred Twenty Second Annual Meeting of the American

Economic Association, pg. 256