Maybe you have heard of differentiated instruction but don’t quite know what it is. Differentiated instruction is a way of teaching which looks at each individual student in the classroom, and tries to personalize instruction for each individual. That means stepping away from teaching in a classroom in only one way, and incorporating different things for different learning styles and personalities.
The Pros of Differentiated Instruction
1. Each Child is Taught to Their Learning Style
That means that children who learn better with hands on lessons may do more with math manipulatives and less with flash cards or worksheets, for example. One benefit of this is that each child has an easier time learning when taught to their strengths and learning styles.
2. Each Students Has an Individualized Learning Plan
This would be very similar to an IEP (Individualized Education Plan). Each child will be worked with according to her individual needs. Her strengths and her weaknesses will both be worked on, but in a way which makes it easier for her to learn.
3. Teacher Creativity
Teachers put in a lot of hours both in and out of the classroom. Some of them really like the concept of differentiated instruction because it opens up different ways they can be creative in the classroom and help each student in creative ways.
4. No Child Left Behind
Since differentiated instruction means each child is being taught in a way which he learns easier, there is less incidence of a child being left behind everyone else.
One of the best things about differentiated instruction is that it is flexible. It is not rigid and does not demand any particular thing, except for what will work best with the individual.
The Cons of Differentiated Instruction
1. Tougher Work Load for Teachers
Working with each individual according to his learning style means more work for the teacher, more time taken for each lesson and each child.
2. Time Constraints
When the teacher has a different plan for each student, the teacher is limited in how much she can actually get done in the classroom. She is also likely to concentrate more on the children who tend to be slower at learning concepts. Being creative takes more time. It also takes more energy. Some teachers find it easier to teach to the class rather than the individual.
3. Children Learn at Different Paces
Some children learning at a slower pace may hold the entire class back from going on.
4. Lack of Schedule
Some teachers don’t function well without a rigid schedule to stick to.
Differentiated instruction is one of the things which is a bit controversial in many learning environments. Understanding the pros and cons may be helpful to teachers, parents, and administrators in deciding whether this is a teaching style which would benefit their place of learning.