If the idea of a classroom with a grid of desks occupied by a group of nearly identical children who sit in silence while the teacher stands before the board speaking is not your ideal, then you’re already on your way to creating a class room for diverse learners.
Soon you won’t even be thinking of it as a classroom but as an educational empowerment space whose function is create a confident, enthusiastic and engaged learner out of everyone who enters, regardless of learning style or ability level. It starts with the simple belief that all children should and will reach their full potential in your classroom. Here are some tips to help you create a classroom that works well for all:
- Unlock The Learner. Take time to not only review individual records like IEP’s but also create learning surveys for both students and their caregivers. Learn what your students like and what they dislike. See what motivates them and what they are afraid of. This insight will help guide you as create lessons and give you the opportunity to include activities that engage and challenge all students.
- Design Matters. Getting and find the things you need in the classroom to engage your work should be effortless. Take a tour around your classroom and ask yourself the following questions. Where are my activity centers? Does there location make sense? Do children have a clear path? Where are my materials stored? Are the signs clear? Do they have words and pictures? Can all children get what they need without help?
- Learn It Together. Research has consistently shown that the use of structured cooperative learning is one of the most effective ways to teach a diverse group of learners.
- It’s All About The Content. Give all your students a chance to engage in the content by using multiple delivery formats such as video, audio, graphic novels, plays and more.
- Organic Process. Once the content is delivered it needs to be processed. Students and teachers need to know what was understood and what was confusing. A quick journal reflection can help students express what they learned or didn’t.
- A Variety Of Products. Using different products to demonstrate mastery gives all learners a chance to use their strengths. Visual Art, Performing Art, Writing, Presentation programs such as Keynote and even interviews, are ways for all students to show what they have learned.
When you get right down to it the “Classroom For All’ isn’t a new educational philosophy to add to your bag of tricks but the very reason you became a teacher in the first place. From a simple shift in focus, from the teacher not as a guard but as a guide, you will begin to create a classroom that is an inclusive community where all members learn from one another.