On Differentiation

Everyone’s learning journey is different. Through personal goal setting, regular open communication, and one-on-one mentoring, I assist my students as they find the learning methods and techniques that work best for them.

In the classroom I strive to be both a facilitator and a delegator. I help students identify their strengths and weaknesses, set achievable goals, and find methods to achieve those goals. I then delegate the responsibility of practicing those methods and working towards those goals to the individual students. As often as possible I like my students to be working on project-based assignments which allow students to choose how they approach the material, progress at their own speed, and which allow me to provide additional scaffolding or challenges to the students who require it.

I find that students often provide the best support to one another and I encourage collaboration and situations where students can scaffold for one another. Students are eager to share what works well for them, and to help their peers apply similar techniques. I believe that the less time I spend in front of the class and the more time I spend working with small groups and individuals, the more likely my students will be to apply their own problem solving and critical thinking skills and help one another reach their goals.

As often as possible, I provide my students with a choice of activities ranging in difficulty and required skill sets. I’ve found that in most cases (or with gentle prompting) students tend to choose activities that fall within the range of their abilities or ones that require a stretch. I make sure I am available to support students both in the classroom and before and after school as necessary.

Sometimes students require modifications or accommodations. When planning a lesson, I always have this in mind, with a range of alternative options–video, audio books, graphic novels, simplified worksheets, or alternative learning environments. I regularly seek out the advice of other teachers, particularly those in special education, and have always found their guidance invaluable. I also greatly appreciate the support of paraprofessionals who are willing to work with me and the students to ensure everyone has the support they need to progress.

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