“If your student has difficulty learning by listening, is there another way to secure him/her opportunities for successful learning?”
I remember this very line from one of the school principals who interviewed me when I applied for a permanent teaching position. Very well, it encapsulates today’s topic: Effective tips to adapt your teaching strategies to students’ needs. It’s engaging and I hope we can collaborate. Certainly, if a teaching strategy won’t work for a student, you should try another one. This is to accommodate the special learning needs of students.
Great teachers keep the balance of the learner’s diversity. Each student has different learning needs and treating them as equal for this matter is a big mistake.
Our students need instructional adaptations to master the learning competencies. Also, as teachers, helping our students to become more productive and increase their academic performance should be our optimal teaching goal. With my years in the teaching field, I believe that there’s no one size fits all strategy.
As I always desire excellence for my learners, I extend the extra mile to equip myself with diverse teaching strategies for my diverse learners. If educators internalize the fact that each student is unique and each has different learning needs and capabilities, students will get the most out of education.
How Diverse Are Our Learners?
As we employ different teaching strategies to meet the needs of our learners, are we really aware of to what extent is the diversity of our learners? How well do you know your students?
Basically, for our students to succeed in the classroom and to be comfortable while under our care, we have to know where they are and what they can do. On my end, I made a ‘profiling’ of my students’ learning styles during the first few weeks of classes. I should do this as I am on the stage of getting to know my new bunch of learners.
I conduct Diagnostic tests and pre-assessment of skills so I will know their learning styles. I find this way particularly valuable and I keep a file of their learning styles and performances.
For one thing, as we target our instructional approaches to meet the needs of our individual learners, we should be into the perception that we are to improve the outcomes of learning and help our students in every possible way we are capable of. Specifically, we need to make necessary modifications of our instructions to cater to our students with learning difficulties.
By making them the center of the educative process, we can prioritize their individual needs and strengthen their confidence to prepare them for success in education and life. By doing so, we are on the path of making education accessible and equitable to all.
Here are some helpful tips to adapt your teaching strategies to students’ needs.
1. Consider important factors.
Each of our students behaves and performs differently because of their unique package and due to some important factors that somehow affect them. Hence, not all students learn in the same way.
According to Harold Hodgkinson, a demographer who analyzed the diversity in US schools, the most diverse groups are the younger children. They perform differently due to differences in culture, socio-economic background, social and family upbringing, and general educational development. In other words, teachers have to note that diverse learners come from diverse families.
Knowing all these, teachers have to acquire varied teaching strategies and modify instruction that will provide equal learning opportunities to students. This will address students’ unique challenges and needs. Realistically, understanding the indicated factors is a way of embracing student diversity.
2. Modify Your Instructions.
Not surprisingly, our students are vastly different. So, using a single teaching strategy to fit all learning styles is a big fat NO!
Communicating the lesson to students with different learning needs requires extra modifications and applications of the varied approaches.
You will have probably noticed that your students who have learning problems benefit from your instructional modifications. If a student has difficulty learning by visualizing, then try other means. You have lots of them in your bag.
When modification happens, your students feel your great concern as their teacher and will not feel insecure about their abilities. You can modify the way you motivate them or the presentation of the lesson. There are many ways of modifying instructions. You just have to be so sensitive to your learner’s needs.
In my class, for example, I make use of collaborative groupings and peer tutoring. By tapping the advanced skills of the fast learners, those with difficulty mastering the competency will somehow get engaged in the learning activities constructively.
Similarly, if some of your learners have a short attention span, why not modify the length of your presentations or give the concerned ones additional time to finish the activities without compromising the essentials.
3. Magnify differentiated instructions.
The principle of effective instruction is highly supported by the adaptation of differentiated instruction to give learners equal opportunities to be successful in class.
The interest of learners and their different learning styles are the cornerstones of using differentiated instructions. Addressing the individual needs of our students is quite overwhelming because it requires much work in a real scenario. There are things that are part of the plan and can’t be carried out because of certain authentic situations in the classroom.
Thus, to maximize the potential of your learners, you have to adjust your teaching methods and tailor-fit your designed activities while being consistent with your specific learning objectives across all students. It’s a bad idea to penalize students for pushing through your lessons even though some of your learners are not mastering the skill.
On my end, I utilize the scaffolding technique as I gradually showcase the lesson content and skills to be learned. By making sure that all my learners’ abilities are recognized, they are never separated from their peers. This technique gradually allows all my students to have access to learning content.
Moreover, to make my assessment accessible to all, I tap bloom’s taxonomy in constructing questions and learning activities whether formative or summative. Ideally, I am promoting a student’s learning and helping them achieve their learning goals.
4. Practice collaboration.
Steven Anderson, an educator, shares that “Alone we are smart. Together, we are brilliant!”
I love the sharing of expertise and ideas in education. Learning the smart teaching methods of other teachers will help us navigate our own teaching styles as well.
Teacher collaboration has an incredible impact on student learning. As a group of teachers working together and sharing their best teaching practices will practically increase student learning and achievement.
Additionally, tapping into our various practices and perspectives in improving learner’s performance, can help us adjust and adapt our teaching methods to our learner’s needs. By explicitly knowing the results and impact of a certain teaching strategy, we are conscious of what it can also do to our groups of learners. Hence, student learning becomes a shared responsibility.
Therefore, as teachers, we have to be aware of the amazing benefits of collaboration in education. We should not get intimidated in approaching others and coming together to share resources, strategies, and anything that concerns teaching and learning.
5. Develop a positive attitude toward diversity.
When we get into teaching, initially, we are so overwhelmed by how diverse our learners are. But as teaching years go by, we learn to understand that student diversity has to be faced optimistically.
By initiating different learning activities in the classroom, your students will be confident to achieve more in learning as they have plenty of choices to choose from. Accordingly, they will also recognize their self-identity and make the most of their diverse interests.
Teaching and learning is a long process and not one method serves as a one-stop-shop for students’ needs. Therefore, as teachers, we fully embrace our learners and provide them with classroom experiences that will allow them to interact and work together with their peers.
6. Build stronger teaching and learning relationships with students.
Do the learning activities encourage fostering positive relationships among learners? Are they encouraged to connect with their peers and to you as their teacher? If it’s a fat yes, then you are building a strong teaching and learning relationship with your bunch of learners.
The more your students trust you as their teacher, the more they interact and show their genuine identity and it would be easier for you to craft learning lessons according to their needs in order to meet them where they are.
Through our day-to-day interactions with our students, we gain a thorough understanding of our learners’ capabilities which gives us hints of how they learn and how they interact. Moreover, this way will give us the means of creating a supportive and warm learning environment. Equally important, we get the opportunity of showing our love and concern for them which is one of the essential elements in successful learning.
Student learning is the cornerstone of teaching. This means that as teachers, we are directly involved in the education of the child and we are accountable for their academic achievements.
In short, as we adapt our teaching strategies to the needs of our learners, we are enhancing the learning process which highly impacts their performance.
Being aware of our learner’s needs and interests, we can do great deals in their success and achievement. Consequently, let me know your thoughts and collaborate. Feel free to comment below and share your best teaching practices that make instruction accessible to all!