In classroom work, a teacher encounters multiple factors that predetermine the choice of methods, theories, and models for instruction. Generally acknowledged age-specific developmental characteristics of students serve as the main trigger of the selection of appropriate teaching approaches. However, children develop at a different pace and with different characteristics, which requires an individualized approach to instruction for better academic performance outcomes (Ormrod & Jones, 2018). The differences in each student’s individual characteristics, developmental level, cultural background, linguistic particularities, and cognitive capabilities constitute the basis for differentiated instruction. As accurately stated by Ormrod and Jones (2018), “effective teachers identify the knowledge and abilities they want students to acquire, and they plan instruction accordingly” (p. 299). Since each student has different learning needs, it is essential to ensure that the materials, instructions, and evaluation practices are appropriate to the students. In the case when the individual particularities of learners are ignored, the learning process is likely to fail without providing opportunities for development. Using standardized and generalized teaching approaches without the identification of students’ specific developmental features, an educator will not be able to achieve positive results in all students.
In order to ensure that a teacher is creating developmentally appropriate instruction based on the individual characteristics of the children, several examining and teaching-related steps might be taken. Firstly, the teacher should examine and analyze his or her students’ backgrounds, interests, strengths and weaknesses in learning, and some particular needs. The knowledge of such background information will allow for the successful completion of consecutive steps, which deal with the organization of classroom activities based on differentiated instruction. Secondly, a teacher should possess a substantial amount of knowledge in the field of psychology pertaining to the level of development at which the educational process should aim at a certain age of the students. Indeed, as identified by Ormrod and Jones (2018), the utilization of much guidance and direct instruction might work best for younger students, while more complicated methods of learning such as lectures or individual learning might serve best for older learners.
Thirdly, an effective educator should be culturally sensitive and knowledgeable to ensure the inclusion of children’s background particularities as means of benefiting their learning. Fourthly, informed planning of activities depends on the motivational challenges, cognitive capabilities, and other particularities of learners. Finally, in order to ensure that the chosen approaches are effective, it is essential to observe and analyze students’ implicit and explicit feedback signalizing the need for change or adjustment. Overall, the work of educators is an ongoing multifaceted process that requires continuous learning and learner-centered decision-making for the most effective results.
Blikstein, P., Gomes, J. S., Akiba, H. T., & Schneider, B. (2017). The effect of highly scaffolded versus general instruction on students’ exploratory behavior and arousal. Technology, Knowledge and Learning, 22(1), 105-128.
Esmonde, I. (2017). Power and sociocultural theories of learning. In Power and privilege in the learning sciences: Critical and sociocultural theories of learning (pp. 6-27). New York, NY: Routledge.
Ormrod, J. E., & Jones, B. D. (2018). Essentials of educational psychology: Big ideas to guide effective teaching. (5th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.
Tomlinson, C. A. (n.d.). What is differentiated instruction? Web.