Much of this blog has been dedicated to the idea of teaching to our students. By this I mean, that as educators we need to use assessment for learning in order to gain a better understanding of our students’ abilities and establish teaching strategies that are conducive to each students’ strengths and weaknesses. There are a variety of benefits that occur when teachers are willing to promote diverse teaching practices.
To begin, by using adaptive teaching methods we are able to ensure that each student is receiving an equal opportunity to learn and be successful. As educators we are aware that every student is different. They have different learning strategies, different interests, different strengths, different backgrounds, and different weaknesses. Therefore, it is unfair and impractical to teach each student in the same way and expect the same results. This does not mean that teachers are expected to establish a separate lesson for each individual student, but rather that teachers should be able to make slight alterations in order to tend to the diverse needs of the class. For some students this might mean computer access, for some it might be a slight extension, while others may require a chart or a list to keep them on track. Minor deviations from a set lesson can make a dramatic difference in a student’s ability to learn, ability to take pride in their success, and ability to find pleasure in learning.
Furthermore, an additional benefit that comes with adaptive teaching strategies and lesson plans is that doing so can help maintain the attention and engagement of students (Chapman, 114). Different lesson formats will resonate with different learning styles as well as serve different functions. Some activities are designed help students focus, some will help strengthen memory, while others focus on learning new concepts. In addition, educators should strive to establish a fluid conversation between students, parents and teacher. Students and parents should be aware of the expectations of assignments, there should be consistent communication regarding student progress, and students should understand the learning goals of each lesson (Cooper, 95). By reviewing the purpose of each lesson, what students are expected to know by the end of it, and how it relates to life outside of the classroom students are then prompted to be more engaged and establish a deeper understanding of concepts.
I have seen firsthand the benefits that come with diverse teaching strategies and adaptive lesson plans. During my CLS placement the teacher presents his lessons in a variety of forms and is consistently prepared with worksheets and adaptive strategies for students who are at different levels of understanding and ability. His lessons are often a combination of oral discussions and written examples. He reviews previous lessons before delving into the next task and ensures that students are aware of the expectations before beginning each assignment. Additionally, this teacher strives to create connections between his lessons and the real world often asking his students “where could we use this in our daily life?” As a result, the students are attentive, engaged and willing to participate which creates a positive and constructive learning environment. Having seen the benefits of such practices my objective as a teacher is not to leave students wondering “why do we have to learn this”, but rather to have students asking “what are we going to learn next”.
Cooper, D. (2010). Talk About Assessment: High School Strategies and Tools. Toronto, On: Nelson.
Gregory and Chapman (2013). Chapter 6- Instructional Strategies for Student Success (113-152) Differentiated Instruction Strategies. Thousand Oak, CA: Corwin.