What classroom climate would be needed if as a teacher you were working with students who needed differentiated instruction? How will you encourage team building, supply an atmosphere where students can take intellectual risks, and feel safe? How will you as a teacher manage inappropriate behavior, bulling,and prohibit ridicule?
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When teachers embrace using differentiated instruction, they understand that all students have different learning styles, are at different levels of understanding, have differences in being ready to learn, and have different interests; however, teachers also believe that despite these differences all students are able to learn and strive to cater to the needs of each individual student. The classroom climate needed for differentiated instruction is one in which students have the ability to move from the whole classroom group, to small groups, to pairs, and even to an individual student setting based on their needs. The classroom environment must also ensure that teachers are able to communicate with students on an individual level, in small groups, and as a class at large.
To create a climate compatible with differentiated learning instruction, a teacher must be aware of the demographics of the class, such as the number of students, gender ratio, and number and types of ethnic groups, knowing that each of these different factors creates its own learning barriers. However, an educator must become aware of the barriers with the specific intention of figuring out how to overcome the barriers. In so doing, an educator must be aware of educational stereotyping and avoid stereotyping. As an example of stereotyping, there is a long-standing cultural myth that impoverished students do not value education as much as their wealthy student counterparts when the reality is that impoverished students simply have more barriers to learning than their wealthier counterparts, such as lack of resources and lack of health. Many impoverished students are also ethnic minorities, so to utilize differentiated instruction, an educator must always keep in mind the belief that all students are capable of learning and not stereotype certain students as being incapable. One specific reason to avoid stereotyping is that it sets the tone of the classroom, and the climate of a classroom capable of utilizing differentiated instruction must contain a positive tone. In turn, the tone can affect student-to-student interactions, and it's these interactions, both inside and outside of the classroom, that most significantly influence student learning. Hence, avoiding stereotyping and immediately dealing with any lack of respect will create a much healthier learning environment capable of addressing all individual student's needs.
I am a student. I acknowledge that students have different ways of learning and different skills and abilities as well. I like it when the teacher has different teaching techniques and I find out with which one I learn best. After knowing with which style I learn best, I try to apply this to the stuff I don't know and I try to understand the lessons I find hard.
You could have varied teaching techniques and you could promote team building by allowing the students to work in groups or trios or pairs. You could have projects by class. As for taking intellectual risks, you may try having debates with the current issues. You might also try playing quiz bee type of games. Allow the students to express themselves and let them be heard.
As a student, I feel safe when my teacher is confident; when I am sure that whatever happens, she knows what she's doing. To handle inappropriate behavior, bullying and the likes, you should be respectable. Let the students know that you have authority over them and you are someone they should listen to. Listen to the students, as much as you would want them to listen to you.
In today's classrooms, differentiated instruction is almost a necessity. It would be hard to find a classroom where all students learn the same way. Therefore, creating a classroom environment where students can take learning risks and feel safe is important.
Setting clear classroom expectations from the first day of class is essential in creating a climate for learning. Those expectations should not only include "how to's" for classroom activities, etc, but also expectations for how students, teachers and materials should be treated and respected. Classroom expectations and behavior is not learned the first day. It requires practice and needs to be taught and re-taught consistently throughout the year.
Students can feel that a teacher cares for their well-being and learning and when the student/teacher relationship is respected then a teacher can accomplish more in the classroom. Inappropriate behavior and bullying should not be tolerated. Hopefully, the school has clear and consistent policies that the teacher can follow and is supported. Communication between the parents and school is important.
Differentiated instruction requires planning, organization and clear classroom expectations.
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