Teaching Today

Differentiating Instruction

Mary Jane Martin, Lower School Faculty

It is my fundamental belief that every child deserves a great teacher! As an educator, I feel it is our responsibility to provide an environment that is conducive to learning. A warm, nurturing atmosphere built upon mutual trust, acceptance and respect establishes a safe learning community. Additionally, we must be cognizant of our students’ intellectual aptitudes as well as their emotional, social and psychological strengths and weaknesses. A caring classroom where a teacher demonstrates enthusiasm for teaching and confidence in her students’ ability to learn is a place every student can be successful. The most important goal to be achieved daily is that our students leave happy, self-assured and excited about their day’s accomplishments.

In a perfect world, our students would come to us as thriving, confident learners of equal cognitive ability. In reality, our students are unique, interesting individuals with diverse interests, abilities and backgrounds. Therefore, we must be skillful in addressing varied academic profiles and differentiating instruction to accommodate all learners. We must be traditional yet innovative in our approach to instruction and be able to focus on students’ dominant learning styles and preferred modalities. We must come with passions and interests outside of the classroom that we can readily share and encourage the same of our students. If our lessons incorporate a variety of enjoyable activities, cooperative learning and a sense of humor, we can capture their interest and allow them to thrive! Walt Disney summed it up by saying, “Do what you do so well that they will want to see it again and bring their friends!”

I believe a competent educator is a lifelong learner. Technology, innovation in brain-based learning and strategies for differentiating instruction are forever evolving. We need to be open to new ideas and embrace learning with the same enthusiasm we expect of our students. “Change” should not be looked upon as needing to work harder; it simply means we need to work differently!

Additionally essential to the wellbeing of our students is a teacher’s ability to work collaboratively with fellow educators. By working as a team, teachers can share ideas, continue to refine their craft and provide a cohesive network of support for their students. They say, “When you find a job you love, you never have to work a day in your life.” So, it only stands to reason that a great teacher will also leave for the day happy, self-assured and excited about their day’s accomplishments. A career where you can inspire, nurture, motivate, mentor and truly make a difference is a coveted profession and one to be held in high regard.

Mary Jane Martin
Lower School Faculty