Differentiating Instruction happens in a myriad of ways! It offers countless opportunities to celebrate our students’ strengths. Often there is more than one right answer in how we teach and in how our students show what they know. We say that “One size does fit all” but putting that into daily practice is complicated. What does it take to make it all work? Successful differentiated classrooms are made up of learning communities that share three critical keys to success:
- Each individual is valued and respected
- Each individual assumes personal responsibility for learning and managing tasks
- Celebrating success motivates and energizes every learner
Let me share a practical classroom strategy that supports these keys.
Valuing the Individual
The Photo Bulletin Board is one way to truly see each individual! Let me explain. During a high school classroom visit, I noticed that students rushed in and gathered around a bulletin board. They were laughing, talking and seemed very excited. The teacher explained that he had just changed his photo display. He frequently took candid pictures of his students in a variety of situations such as working in groups, talking, entering or leaving class or just being kids.
The teacher invited me to take a look at his own desk. Like many teachers, he displayed photographs of his wife and two small children, a trip they can taken to Mount Rushmore and even a great picture of good ol’ Riley, the golden retriever. He loved surrounding himself with not only his personal photos but also with pictures of his students. The message to each student was simple: You are important. In fact, he explained to his students that they were his family, too!
“When I am sitting at my desk before or after school, I like nothing better than to look up and see your faces! You are why I am here!”
The sense of community in that classroom was palpable!
Celebrating the Individual in the Classroom by Linda Tilton