Differentiation often feels overwhelming. Every class is so diverse and there are so many strategies suggested for you to implement. Several changes or modifications are suggested to improve your assessments or worksheets, but you have already spent so much time and energy creating them, building them and editing them. Nearly every teacher has asked the question…
Where do I start?
While there are many differences in your class and many strategies you could use to improve student outcomes, the best thing you can do is choose one strategy. I am not going to tell you that there is one magic strategy that every teacher should use to become a Differentiation Wizard. You see, just as every student in your class is different, every teacher is different. Everyone has different combinations of students and different teaching spaces and any number of other factors that make their teaching situation unique. I am going to show you how to select the best strategy for you to use for your classroom. In order to select the right strategy, you will need to have information about your students – you need to Know your Students. Let’s assume that you have gathered all the data you need and you know your students. Many teachers are great at gathering this information, then they get stuck. What now? What do I do with all this great information?
Selecting ONE strategy to implement
- Research the needs of your students and highlight the strategies that are suggested for each of learning difficulties you are researching.
- Choose one of the strategies that stand out as being useful for various levels/ types of need. Many strategies recommended for one disability will be helpful for students with other disabilities. For example, strategies to support students with ASD are also applicable for students who have dyspraxia. Students with ID and students with SLI will respond positively to similar strategies supporting them with organisation and understanding new concepts.
- Focus on one strategy that you can commit to living and breathing for a long period of time. Practise it and use it in class over and over.
- If it doesn’t seem to be working at first, persevere and ask for feedback from teachers who you know have used the strategy before.
- Use data to measure the effectiveness as well as your command of the strategy.
- Get comfortable with the one strategy that you have committed to, then choose another one to build on.
I would love to hear from you. Let me know what small changes you have made in your classroom to differentiate for your students. Let me know which small changes have made a big impact on students and their learning.