Expect Students to be Different

In order to have a positive school year that creates relationships, confidence, and an overall successful learning experience, I think it is important as a teacher to get to know the students you will be teaching. When I begin teaching, I want to get to know each of my students, and I want my students to get to know me. This relationship is key in my mind. It helps to make a safe, comfortable environment, as well as assists in getting to know the students interests and needs, which can help when choosing instructional strategies. Choosing specific instructional strategies for each students is important in my mind, because each student that I encounter will be different.

When reading the article¬†Implications for Diverse Classrooms, I read a lot of tips about working with specific students which I think could be useful for all students, not just those who might be struggling. In the article, a list of nine strategies was given to assist in working with students who are struggling. A few of the strategies listed are: frequently vary your instructional technique, develop lessons around students’ interests, needs, and experiences, and provide an encouraging, supportive environment. These strategies should all be considered while planning for all of the students in the classroom. A learning experience will be more enjoyable and more successful for both the students and the teacher if interests, needs, varieties of techniques, and encouragement are all considered and included in instructional planning and implementation.

One point made in the article that stood out to me was looking for something unique that each student can do. Each student will have a unique personality and unique abilities. In order to have students feel comfortable and excited about sharing their uniqueness, something should be done that gives them the opportunity to do so. This could be as simple as having a sharing period where students can talk about what they enjoy. Once I discover something unique about each of my students, I want to give them the option to apply it to the classroom learning by having options on assignments or having them voice their opinions about what they want to learn. I think by doing this it will give my students a sense of empowerment, appreciation, and it will help to build strong relationships which can make a large difference in a classroom.

Differentiated Instructional Strategies

Growing up I always remember being told “no two people are exactly alike”. However, I also remember in schools being taught the exact same content, in the exact same way, and that every student was expected to have the exact same learning outcomes. To me, this does not make sense. If people have different personalities, interests, experiences, etc., why should they be expected to learn in the same way? I think that the chapter summarized the importance of differentiated instruction perfectly when stating”one size doesn’t fit all”. Being an Inclusive Education minor I have learned about differentiated instruction quite a bit. However, when learning about it I have been giving examples of what to do when I will be teaching in my own classroom. I think that being a pre-service teacher will make differentiated instruction more difficult to accomplish.

I think that being a pre-service teacher will make differentiated instruction more difficult because of the amount of time that is spent in the classroom. When a teacher starts a new year with a new group of students, the teacher has the ability to spend time getting to know the students. They get to build a relationship and find out who each student is. If the teacher has worked in the school for more than one year, they might already have an idea of who some of the students are. However, as a pre-service teacher, I will be walking into a classroom where relationships have already been built, learning styles have been figured out, and classroom procedures have been put into place. In order to use differentiated instruction, I am going to want to talk to the teacher about specific things they do for certain students, and what forms of instruction they have found to be the most useful. I will be able to get to know the students on some levels, but I think since I am only going to be in the classroom for three weeks, the process of figuring out the different learning styles in the classroom will be difficult. Not impossible, just more difficult than it would have been  if I was with the students since day one.

One part that the chapter discussed a bit was technological change. I am someone who does not think that technology should be completely relied on in classrooms. However, I do think that technology can assist with differentiated instruction in ways that may not have been possible before. In a classroom I assisted in there was a student who was not verbal. Each day the students all sat in a corner and had a classroom leader who would be asked questions. Rather than making this student sit out, the teacher brought in a tool that had pre-set questions on it to make it possible for the student to participate. When it came time for the student to answer the questions, they would type their answers into the computer for the class to read. The ways that the teacher used to include this student seemed so minor, so it made me wonder why people do not use differentiated instruction more often. It may not always be as simple as giving a student a computer to type on, but I think when done successfully it has the ability to make all students feel welcomed which makes for a more positive learning experience.