To Differentiate Is To Do Your Job

16 Feb

A very important aspect of teaching is differentiation.  It is something that has a wide spectrum of how you can do it, as some people do it without even thinking, and there are times when it is crucial to plan for differentiation.  The important thing to remember is that not every student is the same, so why should we teach them all the same way.  Why should we expect to have students learn the same way and learn to the same point and at the same speed?

There are many reasons to differentiate.  Students come from all types of backgrounds, and it is important to know your students.  Knowing where they are coming from and why they act the way they do can give great insight on the way you can give the best instruction possible for the student.  Many of the practices that teachers have are for their own benefit.  Keeping students at the same level, busy work, and many other things are done for the teacher and not the student.  Teachers need to adapt to their students, not the other way around.

A tool that we talked about that I found most beneficial is learning contracts.  Putting students in control of their learning would make a big difference on their attitude of their learning.  I think that it would give them more confidence and desire to do the learning themselves.  Having things like graphic organizers is also  important.  Some people need to have that extra step shown to them, and it doesn’t mean that they don’t understand the concept.  If a student doesn’t know their multiplication table from day one, is it necessary to punish them for that?  If they don’t have that resource to look back on, their confidence and comfort in the math is going to drop and so will their attention and involvement.  An important thing that was said in class was about whether or not you should let a student use these tools during a test.  Our teacher said “I wouldn’t make you take your glasses off during a test, that’s a tool that helps you learn”.  If we teach using the tool it is also important to test with the tool.

Just like “One Size Doesn’t Fit All” neither does our teaching.

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