Differentiated Instruction 2 Teachers that are on a higher plane than the rest, exceptional teachers, are a rare commodity - Differentiated Instruction introduction. These are the teachers that come to work not looking at it as a job but as the chosen field that they desired to enter in to. A field that offers many rewarding experiences, and mostly through seeing students achieve. Students’ achievements are dependent upon a teacher’s preparation. One of the most important things that a teacher can do is come to the classroom prepared to teach an effective lesson.
For a lesson to be effective, it must contain specific components and reach students at their skill level and ability. Even more work goes into planning lessons that includes the utilization of differentiated instruction. Lessons must be planned in a way of teaching to each student individually by targeting their specific learning styles and skill levels. This is accomplished through tailoring lessons that reaches that student specifically with the help of incorporating activities, games, performances, projects and many other alternatives to basic pencil and paper assignments.
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Teachers should make sure that the instructions that are planned are adequate for their class. Differentiated instruction is a method of teaching our students in a manner that reaches them through their interests. Differentiation of instruction incorporates teachers thinking outside the box and integrating aspects of instruction that our students can easily relate to. Of course with all instruction there are many different obstacles and issues that can occur. I will further discuss what differentiated instruction is, methods of mplementation, and issues that can arise during implementing this type of instruction.
Differentiated Instruction (DI) is defined as “a teaching philosophy based on the premise that teachers should adapt instruction to student differences, because “one size does not fit all” (Thousand, 2007). Differentiated Instruction is each educator taking the time to get to know each of their students. Not simply knowing their names, but knowing more personal information about Differentiated Instruction 3 the students is indeed necessary.
The educator need to develop profiles of the students listing their strengths and weaknesses, learning preferences, social interests, academic ability as well as their home (culture) life. . “Whenever possible, teachers should integrate the realities of students’ lives, experiences, and cultures into the classroom while validating and affirming students’ identities” (Leiding, 2007). We have to remember that each student is an individual and that teachers must plan lessons that will reach that student and help build up their self-esteem in regards to the group(s), beliefs, interests that they identify with the most.
When designing a lesson that incorporates differentiated instruction, we need to identify possible problem areas and challenges, and have solutions that are related to the implementation of differentiated teaching and learning strategies. Infusing differentiated instruction throughout the curriculum is not a simple thing to do, nor is it an impossible one. The entire campus, which includes administrators, all teachers and students, must be open and accepting of this type of curriculum. “Teachers worry that by differentiating, they will make more work for themselves.
Initially, this belief is probably true. Learning to differentiate is like learning to ride a bicycle or use a laptop. Extra time needs to be invested in the beginning, and frustrations as one learns are inevitable. However, once that initial period is over, one’s life is much easier and more interesting. Differentiating will become comfortable, teaching will be more productive and efficient, students will be more engaged and responsible and behavioral problems will be eased” (Levy 2008). Within this three year improvement plan there are sure to be some problems that may arise.
For our administrators and staff to incorporate differentiated instruction on campus into our curriculum, there has to be some key components. One of the components is to ensure that we Differentiated Instruction 4 have not only highly qualified teachers but also highly certified. A highly qualified teacher is one that has graduated from college and attained a bachelor’s degree. This degree can be in any field, from culinary arts to architecture. In the state of Texas, these individuals can teach in classrooms as long as they are enrolled in an alternative certification program.
These individuals are allowed to teach while ascertaining their credentials. A highly certified teacher refers to those individuals that actually received their degree in the field of education and received their state certification the traditional way. With this being said, the highly certified candidate has received more, if not better, training in regards to incorporating different techniques and strategies into the general classroom. Our campus has about a 50/50 ratio of uncertified and certified teachers. With the shortage of teaching positions but numerous of unemployed teachers we should be able to employ those certified individuals.
The issue is that at our specific charter school campus we will not be able to match the salary range of the ISD’s in the surrounding areas. So getting the right staff with the knowledge of differentiating instruction would be the first issue. The second issue would be in reference to funding the necessary resources needed to infuse differentiated instruction into our curriculum. As stated before, with this type of instruction, teachers need to think outside the box in regards to instruction, activities, and assessment techniques.
There has to be adequate and reliable resources to help this type of instruction be effective. The incorporation of centers, group projects, and performance tasks assessments is not just done with paper and pencil. Additional materials are needed to complete these assignments. This means more funding from a school budget that has decreased significantly in the past couple of years. At the start of this 2011/2012 school year, our campus has unfortunately laid-off four staff members, including our Dean of Discipline (Vice Principal). We have also gone from being allocated two reams of paper a month to only one.
Asking for funds for more materials and Differentiated Instruction 5 resources is not conducive to staying within a tight budget. The only solution would be for classroom teachers to supply these things or the camps will need to acquire funds from different avenues such as fundraisers. The bright side to funding is that the training of the staff would be cost effective. The education service center in our area does professional development training at no cost to the individual as long as our campus has paid their dues. This is one item that seems to be budgeted for every year. Internal Accountability
Many schools have begun to focus on what they are doing, how well they perform as a whole. With internal accountability, emphasis is placed on how schools hold themselves accountable. A school has to exhibit strong internal accountability meaning there will need to be a strong belief system shared by all and clear expectations of one another. These beliefs and expectations has to be shared by administration, teachers, and students. A school with a strong internal accountability will be more formidable to external accountability than a campus that does not deem accountability as important.
Internal accountability in regards to differentiated instruction begins with strong leadership. Effective leadership is the face of accountability to the entire campus. Strong leadership creates a culture of collaboration, dedication, as well as fosters a sense of willingness to both learn and attempt new things. The campus should come together to agree on common norms and goals on how the school should work, and how they can improve. Teachers should be accountable to themselves, their students, and to other teachers and administration.
Differentiated Instruction 6 The best method to ensure accountability is through data. Our society has become a very data-driven one in regards to the decisions that we make. Our school systems use data in the same manner. We would hold our staff responsible for ensuring that our students are mastering state standards and objectives by analyzing the data, usually through assessment. They will be held accountable for how well each student performs. True infusion will be a long process and for our campus at least a full three years to achieve our educational improvement plan.
Differentiated Instruction will need to occur in all content areas and within as many lessons as possible. Depending on the grade level, infusion will be seen in learning centers, classroom libraries, on the walls, visibility will be year long. Differentiated Instruction can help guide students to become more aware and more accepting of the many ways that they learn as well as others around them. This type of education is concerned with values, attitudes and knowledge. We as educators must guide our students to be aware of how they view themselves and others.