Importance of Differentiated Teaching in the Classroom
In a class full of 50 students, each with their unique trains of thought, development, and maturity, is it ethical for classrooms to adopt a uniform teaching method for all of them? Differentiated teaching, the art of effectively educating all levels of students in the same classroom, was designed to address this problem exactly. It is a technique mastered by the best of the teachers from the herd, through which each student receives individual attention and achieves their highest potential for learning.
Differentiation is primarily a student-centered teaching approach: through a combination of personalized content, projects, individual assessment, adapted environment and learning approach, it is designed to meet the individual needs of each and every student in the class. Coincidentally this is the most important aspect of this radical new teaching method – differentiation allows for the brightest students to pursue new avenues of knowledge, simultaneously helping others to focus and improve upon their weak points. In this way no pupil is left out or struggling; classroom learning becomes infinitely more productive for all the students.
A common complaint among pupils is that classroom education has become a boring, monotonous and ineffective activity; however, with differentiated teaching, this is never the case. Teachers adopt a wide array of practices to reach out and connect with their students. An example is in the case of classroom environment: teachers set up quiet, distraction-free reading areas as well as areas to accommodate group study and collaboration. The student can then easily choose the right learning environment to accommodate his or her preferences.
Another fascinating concept within differentiation is ‘interest centers’ – places where each student can satisfy their curiosity towards their area of enthusiasm. By regularly monitoring student needs, teachers come up with methods like this and successfully engage their pupils in the classroom. Below are some other ways in which students are kept motivated in their class through differential teaching:
Usage of both visual and audio stimuli to present ideas.
Creating groups to aid struggling students to cope with the work.
Adapting reading and vocabulary lists to suit the level of each student.
As well as meeting individual needs and promoting interest, differentiated teaching serves another important role in the development of a child: it nurtures a sense of understanding within children from an early age that not all students learn in the same way – and that is okay! Students observe differences and learn to accept them and their peers. The principal of paired learning also serves as a fantastic tool to improve student collaboration. By pairing talented students with those who are struggling, it helps the stronger student to reinforce his knowledge and the other to learn from his peer instructor: bonds of friendship simultaneously develop.
Differentiated teaching has strong, core principles: it accepts that not all students will embark upon a new task with the same level of ability, lets teachers adjust their methods to identify and accommodate the best learning approach for each student, and makes sure every pupil learns to the best of their ability in the classroom. The method is a continuous learning process for the teacher as well as the student… teachers learn about the ways in which students respond to activities in their daily lives and develop the teaching method accordingly.
With the right sort of practice, the merits of differential teaching are seemingly boundless – based on its current success, we may very well be looking at the soon-to-be vanquisher of ordinary, antiquated teaching methods.