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Most instructors opine that all students have equal capacity to understand instructions. Hence, instructors prepare teaching guidelines and learning content while considering the fact that students have equal capacity. Various scholars have done research on this topic, and the results have shocked teachers.
Research has shown that the general assumption provided by researchers about the equality of the students is false and misleading. The question to ask is that, if all students have equal capacity, why are their faces different? Or why do some students understand learning content better than others? These are some of the issues that this paper addresses.
Research and experience of teachers has shown that students do not have equal capacity to understand learning instructions. Therefore, students are different from each other, they understand things differently, and they also come from different backgrounds, and have varied preferences and basic needs.
Professional learning communities
There are various forms of professional learning communities. The communities include: Study groups, coaching, mentoring, curriculum development, jigsaw strategy, video viewing, action research, and examining students work. The learning communities enhance the understanding of each student. In addition, the learning communities enhance the teacher’s communication, monitoring and evaluation of students (Bender & Larkin, 2009).
Study groups are small groups that students create to discuss certain learning topics. Students mainly focus on inquiry, reflection, and exploration of information. During study group sessions, goals and implementation plans are established. Video sessions provide an opportunity for scholars and teachers to view actual lessons. Individuals learn from mistakes by watching videos. They also learn new ideas and techniques from other scholars and researchers.
Jigsaw is a strategy that group members use to learn new ideas by reading interdependently in small groups. Each member of the group is assigned a certain portion of the text to read independently before a discussion. This fosters teamwork because individuals rely on one another while carrying out their duties.
Action research refers to the use of inquiry and research to address certain questions that students ask. Action research provides students and teachers the opportunity to pursue the questions, which students and teachers have passion (Gregory, 2008).
School culture and differentiated instruction
School policies and programs facilitate improvement and growth capacity of learning and professional institutions. Improvement, growth, and change depend on various factors. These factors include: Skills, knowledge, and dispositions of the educator, which improves quality of staff. They also include professional learning communities, which foster teamwork. In addition, there is the principal leadership, which provides encouragement and mentorship (Gregory, 2008).
In learning institutions, the main objectives and goals are to improve the students’ understanding, knowledge and skills. This also includes the need to improve the competence, confidence and skills of the teaching staff. It also includes the need to instill professionalism in the students and teachers (Eaker, DuFour & Dufour, n.d.).
The culture of an institution plays a big role in the optimal performance of the staff and students. Culture refers to norms, values and assumption that govern a society. Values are aspects that the society maintains. Assumptions are theories that govern values and beliefs. Norms are the expected behaviors that members should support.
The norms either have a positive or negative effect on student’s achievement. Positive norms involve giving people the opportunity to express their opinions. It also includes respecting personal suggestions and giving continuous support and help to needy students. Negative norms in culture include: Lack of involvement in group activities, continuous criticism of other members, and discouraging participation (Gregory, 2008).
Differentiated instructional learning should be encouraged because it helps students with special needs to access quality education. Through this technique, teachers identify the students’ weak areas through continuous monitoring and evaluation. Through professional learning communities, students learn the importance of teamwork. This is carried to professional organizations once these students complete education.
Bender, W.N. & Larkin, M.J. (2009). Reading strategies for elementary students with learning difficulties: Strategies for RTI. Thousand Oaks, CA, Corwin Press.
Eaker, R., DuFour, R. & Dufour, R. (n.d.). Transforming a school into a professional learning community. Retrieved from: <https://www.teachertube.com/video/transforming-a-school-into-a-professional-lea-1281>
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Gregory, G. (2008). Differentiated instructional strategies in practice: training, implementation, and supervision. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.