Differentiation in a RBKIA PYP Primary Classroom Setting

Mrs. Gail Mahoney | 12th October, 2015 Back to Blog

Differentiation is a word used by many educators in schools. The actual meaning of differentiation can be interpreted in a myriad of ways. The word differentiation can take on many shapes, sizes and meanings for each individual teacher. Differentiation at RBKIA is an essential tool that is used by our teachers in their Primary classroom setting. In order to facilitate this method of teaching and learning, the classroom teacher along with the school specialists and administration at RBKIA must come to an agreement of what it is to look like in a classroom and how to implement differentiation.

Differentiation is a method of teaching students. At the very basic level of differentiation, this consists of the efforts of the teachers to respond to the variances of their student populations in their classroom. If a teacher reaches out to their students in various ways to create a better learning environment for their students, they are authentically implementing differentiated instruction. Differentiation can and will be implemented by the teachers at RBKIA teachers in the classroom. Education at RBKIA is not a one size fits all.

The education at RBKIA is implemented in a professional manner, while incorporating many teaching strategies that are made to fit the students and their individual needs. Implementing differentiation is not an easy process for a single teacher in the classroom; however it can and must be done in order to ensure the best possible education at RBKIA. Differentiation is not only for children that need support in their learning, it is also for students that need to be enriched in their learning and encouraged to reach their extended goals and even surpass to a higher level.

Giving children the same work to be completed is not true differentiation. Students each have individual needs in the learning process and teachers at RBKIA are aware and willing to make sure the right fit is made for them. Differentiation in the classroom enhances student learning to the fullest capacity. Teachers need to not only differentiate instruction, they need as true student advocates to differentiate the following: content, process, products, or the learning environment, the use of ongoing assessment and flexible grouping makes this a successful approach to instruction at RBKIA.

In order to make sure you are starting in the right place in your classroom you need to start with each student as an individual. For example if a child in your class is really struggling with reading, writing, organization, time management, social skills or all of the above, the first step is to find out as much as you can about his or her educational history and anything else. This includes learning about their interests, cultural background, learning style, and something about their home life (The youngest? Foster care? Single parent home? Parents that life abroad, travel often?)

The fact is we are mainstreaming a larger number of our students to general education classes, who, 15 years ago, may have instead been assigned to a special education class. That's good news in so many ways but makes a teacher's job more challenging. This is also one of the reasons why differentiated instruction has become such a hot topic along with the argument of rote learning, worksheets, homeworking and classrooms that are not differentiating for their students. Again, not all children walked at the same stage in their development, so why as educators do we insist they do all the same thing in an academic setting? Education is ever changing, evolving and needs to be continually improved.