Why Is Differentiated Instruction Important?

Mention differentiated instruction during a faculty meeting, and you’ll get mixed responses. Some teachers embrace it wholeheartedly, while others fear the word like the plague. Personally, I believe that differentiation often receives negative responses because of misconceptions. Yet, these misconceptions will clear up once the basics of differentiation are understood. So, why is differentiated instruction important? Here are a few reasons why.

All Students Are Different

diversity within students

Students come to school with different backgrounds and experiences. Some are ready for school while others are not. You will have students with disabilities and other issues that hinder learning.

Yet, you have to meet these students where they are at and teach them on their level. You’d look at me like I was crazy if I asked you to perform heart surgery. Teachers know how to teach; doctors are trained in medicine. Likewise, each student walks into the classroom knowing different things, and you have to be prepared for that fact.

Having to Know Your Students

Therefore, you have to teach on different levels and meet the needs of all your students. To do this, you have to know your students.

It’s more than just knowing your data (test scores, reading levels, etc.). It’s about knowing your students- individual learning styles, home life, prior learning experiences, and interests.

Students are more than a score. They are people with personalities and feelings. Take these into account when planning lessons, as well.

To accomplish all of this, you have to do your homework. Differentiated instruction forces you to know your students better. In return, your interest in your students will encourage them to be interested in what you have to say, as well.

Differentiating Instruction Increases Student Engagement

When you are tailoring your instruction to meet the needs of all students, your students will pay attention. Honestly, no one wants to pay attention to something that doesn’t pay attention to them.

So, it makes sense that the more you connect with your students, the more they will connect with what you are trying to teach them.

In return, this increased engagement produces several benefits. First of all, increased engagements equals fewer discipline problems. The students are too focused and busy to act out.

Not only that, but engaged students are actively learning. More of the senses are involved, thus deeper learning takes place. Thus, students comprehend the material better and retain information better.differentiated instruction leads to engagement

Even more, when you vary your instruction to match student learning styles, you’re guaranteeing student success because they’re receiving information according to how they learn best.

So, why is differentiated instruction important? It’s a win-win situation. Students learn more, and you enjoy a class that is tuned in and actively participating.

It Helps You Plan Ahead

Since you’re teaching to every student, you have to think about the needs of every student when planning lessons. You can’t simply throw a lesson together and expect it to be differentiated.

Differentiated instruction requires you to be proactive in your lesson planning. More than that, it requires backward design.

How does that work? To begin, you start with the end result- the outcome. What do you want your students to be able to do? These are the standards that you’re teaching.

Next, you create the way that you’re going to assess mastery of this standard. Luckily, you can incorporate differentiation in this piece, as well.

Did I just say that you don’t have make every student take a multiple choice test? Yes, I did!

Differentiated instruction includes allowing for various end products.

One way you can make this happen is by giving them choices. Create assessment options so that students prove they’ve learned the material in a way that feels comfortable to them..

Then, you have to decide how you’re going to get them there. Here is a great place to incorporate even more differentiation. If you know you that little Johnny is a hands-on learner, then you know that you’ll need to include some hands-on activities to utilize his learning style. Or, if you know that Allison likes to draw, you can include an activity that requires drawing.

As you can see, if you plan your lessons this way, you’ll need to make extra time for planning.

You might be thinking that this means more work, but it actually isn’t. Yes, you’ll plan more, but the result is that your students do more of the work during class.

What will you be doing during class? You’ll get to watch authentic learning take place as you actively monitor students and check for understanding.

You’ll be surprised by how often you’ll catch yourself stopping to observe the joy on a student’s face as they are learning in a way that connects with them. All of this comes from answering the question as to why is differentiated instruction important.

Growth as a Teacher

As you’re planning your lessons and learning different activities to use, you’re growing as a teacher. You’re strengthening your skill set.

Plus, as your students achieve more success, and they will with differentiated instruction, your value as a teacher increases.

grow as a teacher

I hate to mention those monsters known as teacher evaluations, but they are a reality. Bolstering your confidence in using differentiation improves your teaching proficiency.

In addition, increased engagement, better student performance, and varied instructional strategies will increase your performance rating, as well.

Ultimately, using differentiation will increase your ability to teach all students. As the number of instructional strategies and activities in your teacher toolkit increases, you’ll be able to rely on these again and again.

When you have a struggling student that isn’t responding to your instruction, you can fall back on one of the activities that you learned through differentiating your instruction.

Just be sure to match the activity to the needs of your student.

Take it from me, I use this strategy often. Even though every student is different, sometimes I recognize a general pattern among my students.

When I recognize a pattern, I use an activity that I know worked well with similar students in the past. The only changes I have to make is a few small tweaks to personalize the learning even more. For example, I might make a change in the topic of an activity to match a student’s interest, but the activity still remains the same.

Why is Differentiated Instruction Important?

why is differentiated instruction important

The answer is simple. Differentiated instruction makes the learning about your students. From your planning to your implementation, everything focuses on the needs of your students. Even your professional development concentrates on your students. And not just your students as a group, but differentiation focuses on each student individually. That intensive level of teaching makes you a better teacher and helps your students learn better. And, these should be the goals of every teacher.

Leave a comment if you enjoyed this post or if you have any questions about differentiated instruction. I’d love to know what you think.

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Lookout for Teacher Burnout Symptoms

Teacher burnout will sneak up on you if you’re not careful. It’s hard to notice the effects when your attention is devoted completely to a stressful situation. Yet, before long, you’ll begin to feel them. Unfortunately, the damage is often already done, and you can only treat the symptoms. Instead, be on the lookout for teacher burnout symptoms and stop them as soon as they start. To do this, you have to begin with knowing what to look for. They come in several ways.

teacher burnout symptoms

Physical Symptoms

Among the effects of teacher burnout, the physical symptoms are probably the easiest to spot. Most likely, it’s because you’re going to feel these symptoms more intensely than the others. This is because physical pain comes with physical symptoms.

So, what do the physical teacher burnout symptoms look like? They look like the symptoms of stress. Since teacher burnout is exhaustion due to a high level of stress a teacher is feeling in his or her profession. Thus, to recognize these symptoms, you need to identify the physical symptoms of stress.

Stress can damage the body in many ways. It can affect different major symptoms individually, or it can attack the body as a whole. It’s not uncommon to see this high level of stress affecting multiple organs at the same time. Here are some ways in which teacher burnout affects the body:

  • fatigue
  • muscle aches- often in the back and shoulder
  • headaches
  • upset stomach- heartburn, diarrhea, constipation, nausea, or vomitting
  • high blood pressure- stress hormones tighten blood vessels
  • stomach ulcers
  • high blood sugar- increased glucose levels produced by the liver
  • shortness of breath
  • risk of heart attack
  • quickened pulse
  • weakened immune system- make you more susceptible to sickness

As you can see, teacher burnout can cause some major physical issues. It’s important to pay attention to our body and address any issues your having immediately before permanent damage is done to your body.

Mental/ Psychological Teacher Burnout Symptoms

In addition to the physical symptoms, teacher burnout can also cause mental/ psychological symptoms, as well. For instance, it can cause you to feel anxious or nervous. You may wake up fearing going to work because of a bad experience you had recently. Who knows, it may be a string of bad experiences. emotional teacher burnout symptoms

Not only that, but the effects of teacher burnout can also include depression. Stress causes disruptions to your normal routines. For example, your body contains a built in chemical system that reacts to stress.

When your body experiences stress, it releases chemicals such as adrenaline and dopamine. These chemicals speed up your heart rate and other functions that help your body perform better. They cause your body to enter a fight-or-flight status.

With sustained stress, the elevated levels of these chemicals keep you in that fight-or-flight status. This disruption can affect your mood. Overtime, this can lead to depression.

Behavioral Symptoms

As you can see, chronic stress sets up a domino effect in your life. Once you start feeling physical and psychological teacher burnout symptoms, these could, in turn, start to affect your behavior. Stress can cause you to begin behaviors that you normally don’t do.

For example, stress can cause you to start sleepwalking or having nightmares. Or, due to stress, you might change your eating habits. You might either eat more or eat less. Furthermore, if you exercised before, you may begin to decrease your exercise time or frequency. Also, you might suffer from changes in your sleep patterns.

Even more, you might find yourself questioning your decisions and even putting off making decisions. On the other hand, you might find yourself making rash decisions and taking risks that you normally wouldn’t make. This could because of a sense of desperation that accompanies teacher burnout.

It’s safe to say that how you respond to teacher burnout and how it affects your behavior is going to be different from somebody else’s response. It’s important to remember that you are an unique individual, and your response will be just as unique as you are.

Social Symptoms

If the previous symptoms aren’t enough, teacher burnout can affect you socially, as well. Because you hurt physically or you experience negative emotions, you might feel yourself wanting to withdraw from others. This distancing yourself from others will have adverse reactions to your relationships.

In addition, teacher burnout can cause communication problems. Even though you may not really mean to, you may lashsocial symptoms of teacher burnout out to those that are close to you. Because you’re already agitated from work, it spills over into your life outside of work. And, this agitation stains your closest relationships.

Only If You Let It

Yet, this doesn’t have to be the way life has to be. Teacher burnout symptoms can damage you physically, emotionally, psychologically, behaviorally, or socially only if you let it. The key to preventing the damage caused by teacher burnout is being aware of these symptoms and paying attention to yourself.

If you see yourself starting to experience any of these symptoms, you need to take action before it’s too late. Too often, teachers don’t do anything about the effects of teacher burnout because they’ve learned to accept them as the status quo. Yet, this doesn’t have to be so. Teacher burnout can be cured. Even more, it can be prevented.

Self-awareness and self-care go a long way into keeping teacher burnout at bay. It’s ironic: the causes of teacher burnout are external, but the solution is internal. Focusing on yourself instead of your situation is how you turn your situation around. You may not be able to control much in your situation, but you can control how you respond to your situation.

If you’d like to find out how you can prevent teacher burnout, subscribe to teachernirvana.com below. If you sign-up, I’ll send you more information on preventing teacher burnout that includes a free guide with 20 free and easy things you can do to prevent teacher burnout.

As always, if you liked what you’ve read or if you have a question, leave me a comment below I’d enjoy some dialogue on teacher burnout I really feel it’s become a problem in our profession, and it’s time something is done about it.

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