Education professionals are increasingly aware of the polarization between students in the classrooms. Teaching science now looks into this reality which reveals – surprisingly – how much every students have their own way to learn, solve problems, build their logic, analyze and classify information, and find sources of motivation. They have their own set of behaviors, abilities and interests. As teachers, this drives us to develop active listening and observation strategies which will allow us to provide a differentiated instruction to our students, by targeting their needs in terms of identity and educational values.
What is differentiated instruction? It is a proactive teaching method where the teacher relies heavily on his/her relation with the student, therefore establishing a greater sense of trust favorable to learning. In fact, we insist on the word “learning”, instead of performance or competition. Skills acquisition becomes the cornerstone of differentiated instruction which focusses on the students’ strengths and autonomy, respecting their rhythm, rather than zooming in the accumulation of knowledge.
Don’t be fooled – it is not an unplanned process. On the contrary, nothing is left to chance. The student learns in a more flexible and open framework. It is also important not to lose sight of the goal of this teaching style: progress. This is not an “individualized” method of teaching that we can use at all times. Instead, the aim is to adopt unfamiliar ways of working, which are more diverse and creative.
This approach is not an end in itself, but rather a way to achieve academic progress and success at school in a motivating and respectful environment. Differentiated instruction is a big challenge for teachers, who will be even more rewarded, when they will objectively see the positive impacts of their new educational methods on their students.