(Main, K 2017, ‘Catering for Individual Students’ in DL Pendergast, K Main & NM Bahr (3rd Edition), Teaching Middle Year: Rethinking Curriculum, Pedagogy and Assessment, Allen & Unwin, Crows Nest, pp. 80-97)
Digitally Annotated by Andrei Apostol
This theme acknowledged that the students we work within a middle school setting are complex, unique and diverse needs, they are adolescence (still developing). It looked at the complexities of the transition to Middle schooling from primary school and the change from the focus of the child learner in primary and the secondary school focus of subject matter. It also noted that just because students are orientated to Middle school doesn’t necessarily mean they have transitioned fully either, schools and teacher need to assist, positively with this transition. Key approaches explored include differentiation, personal learning methodology and maturation.
3 – CAPTURE THE ESSENCE OF THE CHAPTER
Differentiation – a pedagogical approach to meet the diverse needs of all students (Tomlinson, 2005 as cited in Main, K 2017pp.81) and enables all student’s success through a meaningful curriculum that meets their needs. (I like this. Success is the main goal, engaging and making the content ‘fun’ is not sufficient in itself unless it is paired with the aforementioned academic rigour)
Personal learning methodology recognises that each student is unique and has unique attributes that contribute to who they are and how they learn. In the approach, students are at the centre of their learning and can connect and transfer learnings into other aspects of life and school subjects. Students in this approach very much work to or work as self-directed learners (Main, K 2017, pp.94, 97) Very important to implement a sense of self-regulation in students, so they can take initiative without having to be told.
To differentiate is know the students (AITSL standard 1!J), differentiation starts with the planning process and considers the student’s readiness for content (Could their readiness for content be measured by a diagnostic assessment do you think?), interest in content as well as the student learning profiles (Main, K 2017, p. 97)
2 – PRACTICAL IMPLICATIONS FOR YOUR TEACHING
I, as a teacher, will acknowledge that one size fits all does not work in the classroom – I will seek to differentiate my students to enable them to successfully navigate work and curriculum. I will not marginalise any of my students and cater for their learning needs. (I like the word ‘marginalise’ as an apt descriptor of what happens in many classrooms! It is important to note that catering to students also involves dividing up time between them equitably!)
Using personalised learning methodology to enhance student learning to enable them to work as self-directed learnings in a collaborative environment and each finds success of the same outcome. (I like how you brought it back to success as the ultimate goal – the roads may be different, but the destination is the same!)
1A – RICH, OPEN-ENDED QUESTION OR PROVOCATION
Baggett (1997, p.26, as cited in Main, K 2017, pp.94, 97) noted that when we as middle school teachers recognise the diversity of learners in our classroom and provide for the diverse learning needs in our planning and instruction, we differentiate the curriculum. How can we as teachers of middle school learner gain this knowledge of our students personal and contextual backgrounds that influence their learning needs? (Nice provocation and this knowledge comes through experience and community interactions over time – mostly with other staff and the student in question's parents.)
1B- REFLECTIVE RESPONSE ON TO THE QUESTION OR PROVOCATION
Acknowledging the diversity of learner is clearly one aspect of a teacher's role, but actually being able to differentiate instruction and curriculum as per student needs, come through experience and community and professional learning and interactions. It does take time but with practice, it can become part of my teaching practice.
Damien Walker is currently studying a Bachelor of Education, Food and Textiles Technologies at University of South Australia. This is him engaging with readings and questions throughout his teaching journey to gain professional insight and knowledge.