Differentiation In The Classroom
What is Differentiation?
Differentiation is when you realize and recognize as an educator that all students are different and that all students learn differently. However, you ensure that each student that enters your classroom have an opportunity to learn the information. You teach your lesson in different ways, with different students to make sure every student grasp the information.
"The biggest mistake of past centuries in teaching has been to treat all children as if they were variants of the same individual, and thus to feel justified in teaching them the same subjects in the same way" -Howard Gardner
Creating a Positive Learning Environment
Creating a positive learning environment that is safe and secure is one of the most important things you can do as an educator. "There are many ingredients that go into making a thriving learning environment" (Edutopia, 2016). One important aspect in creating a positive learning environment is to make sure that you are culturally responsive and culturally relevant. Students want to come into an environment where they feel like you care about them, their cultural and you are aware. Creating a positive and safe environment usually falls into three categories: "Good Relationships, Clear Communication and Trust" (Edutopia, 2016).
"Students may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel"-Carl W. Buechner
Meeting the Social and Emotional Needs of the Students
"Social and emotional development is an important element of early childhood curriculum for a number of reasons related to the development of resilience, self-regulation, and early childhood as a window of opportunity" (Jarszewicz,2013). In my classroom the way I like to meet the social and emotional needs of my students is by following "teachers behaviors that promote high-quality relationships which include: using words and body language that show affection and interest in individual children, engaging in personal interactions or conversations with each child daily and recognizing and acknowledging individual and group accomplishments" (Jarszewicz, 2013). Being able to connect with children on an individual level with conversations and interests in the classroom is the foundation for building social and emotional needs.
Student Work and Assignments
In my classroom student work and assignments have very clear expectations. I never give my students an assignment before I have thoroughly taught the standard, have gone over the standard and truly feel that my students can complete the assignment independently. Therefore, when assignments are completed and turned in I have high expectations for every student to do well.
Providing Students Opportunities to Succeed
Every student have the opportunity to succeed. Every child that enters into my classroom regardless of background, reading level, social class etc have an opportunity to learn in my classroom because I ensure that I use every strategy, added Tier 1, Tier 2 and every other strategy to benefit the needs of every student in my class. No two students learn the same and you have to be willing to adapt and implement to make sure every student learns. I encourage and motivate every student along the way so that they never fear failure. When you believe you can succeed you will and that has and will be the motto in my classroom.
"A teacher in a differentiated classroom does not classify herself as someone who already differentiates instruction. Rather that teacher that is fully aware that every hour of teaching, every day in the classroom can reveal one more way to make the classroom a better match for it's learners" -Carol Ann Tomlinson
Assessing Student Work
I assess my students through informal and formal assessments. Informal assessments are what I give my students as a way to see if they are understanding the materials I am teaching. Informal assessments tells me if I need to re-teach whole group, small group or if in fact my students are ready for a formal assessment so we can move on. I always assess my students along the way. I never just give a formal assessment at the end because the informal assessments along the way is what drive my next teaching steps, it shows me exactly what my class has grasped and what I still need to work on before the formal assessment. "Our reason for assessing students has to be grounded in a commitment to use the information in a way that helps us to generate greater success for them" (Lopez, 2013).
Edutopia. (2016). 32 Strategies for building a positive learning environment. Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.com
Lopez, D. (2014). No Excuses University. Retrieved from Ashford Constellation
Jaruszewics, C. (2013). Curriculum and Methods for Early Childhood Educators. Retrieved from Ashford Constellation