Why should we differentiate?
Beyond the obvious that is we have kids in our room that would not be successful if we did not differentiate then there are many other reason why we should do it too.
1. Every student is different
2. Engagement leads to success
3. Helps our most vulnerable students
4. Sets students up for the 21st learning environment
5. Flexiblity is more valuable than rigidity
Here is why I differentiate
Well in all reality I have to. In the past five years I have yet to have a classroom where the majoirity of my students were working at the same level. Differentiation does not mean that I only do this for regular stream vs special education stream students. It mean to do it for all students.
In a combined great classroom that has more than 50% of boys spanning over to grades. With an average of one third requiring special education needs not including a variety of mental health issues, differentiation becomes very important.
I differentiate because it makes my life easier. When I differentiate I have less classroom management issues, more work is completed, student like learning, and I can reach more students easily without planning multiple activities for the same learning task.
I differentiate because it lets me watch a student who is completely disengaged with writing who refuses to write become one of my most creative writers.
I differentiate because it allows me to see the student hiding in the corner for who she really is a fun creative and engaging kid who has a lot of value to add but in her own way.
I differentiate because boys learn differently than girls and to not understand this means alienating more than 50% of my class.
I differentiate because I teach two grades at once so I need to understand that all of the students in my class are starting from a different starting point. Not doing this would mean pulling my hair out. I don't have time to plan 2-6 different seperate lesson for each period to meet the needs of all my students so instead I plan one and make it open ended with multiple entry points so that it is accessible for all of my students. Plan once, flexible delivery, multiple entry and exit points, everyone learning.
I differentiate because when kids are bored they act out. They’re smart, why would they want to do something if it doesn’t somehow connect with what they’re supposed be learning. They can see through busywork and they need a purpose for learning.
I differentiate because in the world that we are living in collaboration, communication, creativity, problem solving, critical thinking and more are essential skills the students need to develop in order to be successful in their future world
I differentiate because the parents of my lowest achieving students just want what’s best for their kids and they cry when their kids are labeled with special education needs. By differentiating I can show them the special-education diagnosis is not a life sentence. Their children can and will achieve when given the correct supports in the classroom.
I differentiate because I like to see students become confident in their ability. And accept that they may learn differently but can still learn. It is a powerful door that is opened for their potential. Recognizing that all students can achieve is a core belief that is essential when working with students. Although I may not be able to breakthrough all barriers that inhibit student success, and I may not be the person to do this for every student, I try. And with some success I am able to make a difference for those that are ready.
I differentiate because I want to show students how they can differentiate for themselves to advocate for their own learning. When a student understands how they learn, you make it possible to advocate for themselves. They can then better access what is being presented to them independently. This makes the student's life the life of their future teachers easier.
I differentiate because being flexible and accommodating is actually much easier than being rigid and inflexible. The simple act of being flexible in the classroom, although difficult at first to shift to this mindset in the classroom, in practice makes teaching, planning and learning easier. Inquiry is an amazing approach to teaching and learning and I would encourage you to walk through the fire and see what amazing things can happen when you give it a try.
I differentiate because it makes a difference. I make a difference. It helps my students make a difference. And this is essentially why I became a teacher. Differentiation makes me a better teacher.
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I differentiate because…