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Different strokes…

Educators reminded to be versatile in their approach to teaching

Educators have been reminded of the need to employ different strategies in teaching as “no two children learn in the identical way”.

This advice was given by Senior Education Officer (tertiary), Joy Adamson, as she addressed principals and administrators, involved in the Schools’ Positive Behaviour Management Programme, and participants of a four-day workshop on Differentiated Instruction at the St. Leonard’s Boys’ Secondary School.

She said: “A classroom designed as a one size fits all approach is cave man thinking In this era that approach is ineffective for some and harmful to others.”

Adding that in the classroom educators should teach children to think for themselves, she told participants that the workshop was designed to get those in the profession “thinking differently” about what they do and to refresh them on the tenets of differentiated instruction and multiple intelligences. “I do believe [it will] challenge you to adopt a differentiated school. Believe that it can work and it will,” she maintained.

Adamson noted that differentiated instruction (also known as differentiated learning or, in education, simply, differentiation) involved providing students with various avenues to acquire content; to process, construct, or make sense of ideas; and to develop teaching materials so that all students within a classroom can learn effectively, regardless of differences in ability.

Alluding to the definition given by Carol Ann Thomilson, the official emphasised that it was the process of “ensuring that what a student learns, how he/she learns it, and how the student demonstrates what he/she has learnt is a match for that student’s readiness level, interests, and preferred mode of learning”.

Participants were further told that research had indicated that many of the emotional or social difficulties gifted students experience disappeared when their educational climates were adapted to their level and pace of learning.

“Differentiation in education can also include how a student shows that they have mastery of a concept. This could be through a research paper, role play, podcast, diagram, [or] poster. You get the idea,” said the official, adding that she believed the key to differentiation was “finding out how your students learn and instructing or facilitating their learning to meet their specific needs so they are ultimately more successful in their learning and retaining information.”

Teachers were, therefore, urged to be receptive to the ideas shared during the four days and to go back to their schools and embrace and spread the word in order to “see a different approach”.

Meanwhile, facilitator for the workshop Professor Emeritus, Winston King, from the Faculty of Education (Curriculum and Science) University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, reminded teachers of the ability of each student to learn.

He said: “Most students can learn most things that are essential to a given area of study.

Each student should have equity of access to excellent learning opportunities and that should come as no surprise to you in Barbados. The motto in your Curriculum 2000 is that ‘Each One Matters’ and that is what should drive education. . . An essential goal of education is to maximise the capacity of each learner.”

The four-day training workshop on Differentiated Instruction continues until tomorrow at the Richmond Gap institution. (BGIS)

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