DIFFERENTIATED INSTRUCTION: TO DEFY OR DIVERSIFY?
Classrooms today are filled with learners who have different learning abilities, socio-cultural backgrounds, different mother tongues, styles of learning as well as interest in learning. It is a great challenge for teachers to teach in this kind of environment. If teachers simply opt for the one-size-fits-all teaching instruction, then, it is evident they do not convey good teaching instruction (Borja et. al, 2015).
Teachers are clearly challenged by the task of diversifying instruction in order to help every learner meet their full potential. It is really a monumental task for most teachers to diversify their instruction and provide a learning environment and opportunities that exclude no learner. Though, it is demanding, it is important for teachers to make each and every child feel that they belong to the class and help them overcome their own fears and master the content that is being taught.
It is easier said than done. However, what choice do we teachers have? Basically, we have two choices. First of all, we can take the challenge and attempt to DIVERSIFY our way of teaching to meet the needs of all our learners. The second choice would be to DEFY; to rebel, continue to treat all learners equally in all areas and pay no attention to their differing needs and abilities.
WHY SHOULD TEACHERS EMBRACE DIFFERENTIATED INSTRUCTION
DIFFERENTIATED INSTRUCTION IN CLASSROOMS: A QUICK REVISIT
Differentiated instruction takes place in classrooms with mixed-ability learners. Mixed-ability classes commonly refer to classes where learners have a broad range of levels in their achievement and learning. The learners in these classes differ in terms of their strengths and weaknesses and have different approaches to learning (Subaiei, 2017)
As we know, teachers differentiate their instruction when they accommodate the content, process and products in order to support their learners’ individual needs. By doing so, they will have the chance to address learners’ individual needs in order to make their learning process successful and meaningful to each learner (Tomlinson, 2001).
No doubt, it not easy at all to implement differentiated instruction. In facing challenges, let us ponder on these issues:
For a successful implementation of differentiated instruction, we must have knowledge; we need to get the right input. If necessary, learn about differentiated instruction as much as we can.
Be open-minded to change. We have to admit, as teachers, we are the key agents of change.
Opt for flexibility in our implementation. Do not pressure ourselves too much.
Take things easy. We should do things step by one. We deal with the challenges one by one.
For a start, do not aim too high. Our life will be highly stressful if we attempt to implement all changes at one go. Perhaps, we focus on the content or input first. Then, we work on the process and later on the product.
It is fine to have some flaws. It is permissible to have little hiccups here and there.
It would be good if can have at least a partner who also believes in differentiated instruction. If not our colleague, we should have a supportive teacher from another school. Plan and execute together and if needed, lament together. Whatever, it is the show must go on.
Accept the fact that as a junior or an “amateur”, we do not have answers for everything. Never mind. What is more crucial is that we have our passion and determination to offer differentiated instruction to our learners.
Perhaps, without much guidance, at the initial stage most of the things about differentiated instruction could be blurred and uncertain. Our ambiguity is always temporary. As we go on implementing differentiated instruction, things will always get better and better.
Our misunderstanding, misconception, failure, mistakes, flaws, fears and hiccups are our greatest teachers. Appreciate each and every one of them.