In what ways might a classroom reflect equity and access and also respond to the specific needs of students representing the broad diversity of our schools? Can teachers differentiate and use flexible instructional grouping without issues being raised about equality?
All students, indeed, need access to challenge, engagement, novelty, and exploration as well as opportunities to follow their interests, curiosities, and passions through intriguing learning tasks. However, in recognizing the diversity among our students, we must also affirm that not all students need to learn, think, and do in the same (equal) ways. Equity and access are reflected in a teacher’s recognition that unique learners need personalized approaches to learning.
There is much a teacher in a differentiated classroom can do to ensure all students are and feel part of a community of learners. First, let’s consider the qualities of a classroom environment that both supports differentiation and affirms the value of each student. A supportive classroom:
A supportive environment is vital to the success of a differentiated classroom.
In addition to an environment that recognizes and supports all learners, the thoughtful design and facilitation of instructional tasks is critical to the students’ sense of fairness. In a differentiated classroom, it is accepted that not all students will be engaged in the same learning at the same time, doing the same tasks. As such, the design and facilitation of differentiated tasks must be viewed as fair by students. What critical features define respectful tasks for all learners? Consider the following as you design and facilitate differentiated tasks in your classroom:
Differentiated classrooms reflect both access and equity for all students. Through creating supportive learning environments and fair and equitable learning experiences, we convey the value and worth of all learners.
This article was originally posted at Free Spirit Publishing.