How do you reach all students with the wide range of abilities in your classroom?
WOW!?! Mannnnnny factors play into answering this question. I began thinking and decided an enormous number of components work together for the greater good, when teaching in a classroom that is saturated with learning diversity. Well, YOU know how “chatty” I can be so I decided to make a list hoping to alleviate a bit of my “long windedness”. Here we go!
Co-teaching: an amazing way to reach every child through differentiated instruction
Parallel teaching: splitting students into two heterogeneous groups in order for each teacher to deliver identical lessons in two separate learning areas in the room; this allows for prescriptive and tailored instruction to take place even within a mini lesson; student to teacher ratio is significantly more effective
Planning time: setting aside a time to sit down with your co-teacher(s) every single week and bounce creative ideas off one another, two heads are always better than one! Planning not only mini lessons but small group time as well. Make this a priority!!!
Work Period: both teachers are pulling a small group that has been strategically chosen after looking at data, writing samples, past small groups, etc. No one is ever doing “homeroom” kind of work while the children are in the classroom (ex. newsletter, paperwork, lesson plans)
Professional Reading and Development: recognizing that the resources available in professional literature compounded with collegial relationships and resources around you are priceless; stepping out of my comfort zone and asking for help through fellow teachers and coaches, reading blogspots, asking questions on a forum, and just good ol’ fashioned reading have provided me and my co-teacher with invaluable information
Positive Discipline: sometimes reaching every child requires variance within behavioral instruction, not just academic direction; finding a way to unconditionally love and advocate for every child is of utmost importance; pairing an intensive positive side to the flip side of your discipline system is an incredibly powerful tool. There isn’t a child alive who doesn’t glow in the light of your sincere verbal/nonverbal praise.
The path I dream of taking is one entrenched in learning and cultural diversity. I make it a focus to never be too busy or feel too overwhelmed to listen even when there are only screams, to hug even if I’m only being hurt, and to say "I love you" even when nasty words are all I hear. I always remember this may be the only chance I get with these children and I will make it all it can be.
P.S. Oh and when I get it all figured out… I’ll let you know!