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Every classroom is different. Your job as a teacher is one of the hardest jobs there is, and yet when done right, can also be one of the most rewarding.
But how can you address all the different learning styles within one classroom? You are one teacher and they are…many more than you! Most teachers do not have the luxury of always spending one-on-one time with each of their students. Classrooms, meanwhile, are expanding more often than they are becoming smaller. Learning differential teaching for different learning styles is important for any classroom so you can address every type of learning, and not let anyone pass you by or be ignored.
Teaching is hard, but never fear! Being concerned is a good first step. Another is re-evaluating. If you are able to constantly think of new approaches and learn from your students, you are half way there. Have confidence in yourself, take a deep breath, and keep the following things in mind:
According to Carol Moore, author of Learning Styles: Classroom Adaptation, there are three main learning methods and students usually lean towards one: visual, auditory and kinesthetic. All three of these should be incorporated into the lesson plan to maximize learning for all students.
These learners benefit from images, color, and written information. They like to be able to read things on their own to increase their understanding and to take notes. It is often helpful for them to use highlighters or to underline while reading. They also might be more sensitive to visual distractions.
For visual learners, write things down on the board when you are describing them. Use pictures in lectures, and give students handouts to follow along. Helpful visuals include time lines, diagrams, charts and maps.
These students learn the most by listening and speaking. They do well with lectures and class discussions. They might also be more easily disrupted by outside noise. They study best through verbal repetition.
These learners enjoy and will pay close attention to interesting lessons as well as music activities. They often do well on tests with soft background music on.
Most students learn the most from hands-on activities, but some learners gain a lot more than others from it. They learn by touch and figuring things out independently. It might benefit them to be continuously moving when they study, for example tapping their feet or fingers. They might be harder to keep in their seat in general.
Most kids are kinesthetic learners and need lots of activities. Computer work, hands-on projects, and manipulative learning materials (for example manipulating items to learn math) are good learning strategies to help these students. Just try and keep the feet-tappers away from the students they might disrupt.
Here are a few more tips based on advice from the National Science Foundation for teachers:
Most students learn best when there is a logical sequence with systematic steps. They often like rubrics and can easily follow lectures and assignments. However, some kids need a more creative environment to shine. Give them some choices, but also have a logical progression in mind so that the students have an understanding of where they are headed and what they need to do.
Some students benefit greatly from group activities and others don’t. Give them the option to pair up sometimes, but don’t always require them to do so. Don’t always let them choose their partners, either.
Environmental factors that can negatively or positively affect a student’s learning include formal versus informal settings, noise, temperature and lighting. Keep these things in mind and try and find a medium for all of your students. For example, some students benefit from noise such as music when studying and others find it distracting. It is recommended to establish several study areas—one where noise is kept to a minimum and one where some background noise is present.
Mobility in general is a good thing. It is not good for the human body to be sitting for long periods of time. Give your students short breaks and time to stand, stretch, and move around, every 30 minutes is recommended.
Your students are going to learn at different levels. All students have their strengths and weaknesses. It is best to implement broad instructional concepts and skills so that the students can understand at various levels of complexity.
Students have learning preferences, but most learn from a variety of auditory, visual, and kinesthetic techniques. It is helpful to provide different options for learning and studying so that they can figure out how they learn best.
It is also good for students to be exposed to teaching styles that aren’t their preferences or strengths as long as they are also taught using preferred methods as well. This way they can develop their weak points as well as their strengths.
Central to your success as a teacher is getting to know your students, so that you can discover what is working for them and how to better facilitate learning in the classroom. It is important to know where your students are at and where they need to be, so that you can focus on getting them there. Most importantly, it is your job to encourage and get them interested in learning so that they continue on empowered with both knowledge and the desire for more.
Janel Spencer is a writer and content editor for 360 Education Solutions