Learning Differentiation: How does it fit?

Aug 16
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Finding the best way to meet the individual learning needs of each student is one of the great challenges faced by each teacher in the classroom. The early industrial revolutionary model of getting everyone to the same point by the end of their Schooling is no longer relevant. Many measures of successful achievement that surround educators today speak to a broader picture of education. Schools are now assessed and rated on their engagement, satisfaction, retention and wellbeing.

These additional factors add greater complexity in developing and delivering curriculum. Educators are constantly being challenged to develop a deeper understanding of how students learn and how to best cater to their individual needs. Greater emphasis is being placed on growing learners’ social and emotional competencies (Dept. of Education and Training 2014). Shelton outlines that differentiating instruction to identify and develop the way each student can use emotional awareness and social-emotional skills may seem complicated at first (Shelton, Classroom Leadership, Nov. 2003, Vol.7).

Developing an awareness of the need for enhancing differentiation practices across the School can lead to a greater understanding of the need to enhance teaching and learning. The more that teachers get to know the individual needs of their learners, the more they come to realise that a great repertoire of strategies and practices are required.  Through developing an enhanced dialogical approach, teachers can simplify this process. Shelton outlines that by developing a greater understanding of students, having them identify areas of growth and having them set goals that will help them achieve is a way of achieving enhanced learning for students (Shelton, Classroom Leadership, Nov. 2003, Vol.7).

What does this look like? How do we find time to do this? What are ways of systematising this approach? And how do we equip educators to embed this as a part of expected practice? These are all questions that require consideration. Maybe you have some suggestions or comments on where this sits in your particular environment. I will be discussing this topic further at the Achieving Learning Differentiation conference this November.

Book your place by September 2nd to save $400.

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Submitted by Merrick Brewer

Merrick Brewer

Merrick Brewer is currently the Head of Learning & Teaching at St Andrews Christian School, a P to 12 Campus located in Wantirna, Australia. After only 1 year in the role, Merrick has a passion for understanding ways of catering for the varied needs of students and identifying pathways that can best cater for these individual learning needs. Merrick’s desire to ensure that all students experience success has led him to uncover strategies that all teachers are able to implement in an effective and efficient manner. Merrick also believes that students’ passions and interests hold the key to unlocking their learning potential. An engaging presenter, he is keen to share his experience with others. Merrick was recently awarded the NEiTA Inspirational Teaching Award in the Innovation category and is a recognised author.

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