A personalized pedagogy.
The current and recent research on alternative pedagogies and neuroscience clearly show that the teaching methods I gradually put in place at the Lycée International Montessori – and I will continue in the Montessori International School Athena – are the only ones that allow students to give the best of themselves.
The latest researches show indeed scientifically what has always been obvious for me : the lectures cannot agree to all students of the same class. To enable everyone to realize his full potential, it is imperative that the teacher consider the unique characteristics of each student. This is especially true with students with special needs.
The best method is the one wich individualizes the teaching.
The system of individual work plans is once again the best method because it allows each student to progress at his own pace. The individual work plans allow students to have a choice, to have access to multisensory material if they need it (which is not an obligation), to learn the rules of spelling, grammar , math, etc… the way in which they learn the best (by reading, by copying, etc…) and then going to recite to their teacher when they feel ready to do so.
Reading the work plan gives students an overview of the learning of the year. So he knows where he goes and can situe himself in the program’s progress at any time. He can choose to start with this or that part of the program while maintaining a logical course.
Individual work should not be imposed permanently. Students also like the group work and appreciate moments of collective work that can be implemented in certain subjects such as History where it is very enjoyable and rewarding for students to listen to the teacher “telling a story”.
This material, such as geography or science, can lead to presentations done in small groups where students conduct research on the internet, library, etc… in order to prepare a presentation they later make to other students – and their teacher – which still meets another way to learn.
Do not forget that students need concrete. It is therefore very important to organize many cultural events, film screenings, lectures and presentations of participants from outside the school, etc…
Learning by the senses is effective even for older students. For smaller, the Montessori method is ideal with the handling of all sensorial material, that of mathematics, practical life, etc… The memory of the hands allow them to learn in a sustainable manner.
Later, we must think of the realization of practical work involving the student’s senses and his creativity. The achievement of manual work and presentations is essential to good learning. For example, a student who crafted a volcano by himself will always remember all the constituent elements and its operation. Conducting presentations in which students glue, write, compose harmoniously, makes learning extremely effective.
This differentiation of education gives a lot of work to the teacher. He must indeed be ready to adapt and innovate at any time in his methods. He should be ready to create new materials based on each student’s individuality, to vary his teaching (individual, group, small group), to search for all things that can illustrate his lessons concretely and sensorially. This is why the number of students in the class shouldn’t be significant. But what satisfaction it is to innovate, create, view the result of innovations in students’ curiosity and joy of learning. How satisfying to see all the progress made by each according to his abilities!
Consider the following facts: The classroom today is very heterogeneous. We find students from different backgrounds, with varied learning needs. For example, one class includes students from different gender, students whom studying language is sometimes a second language, students who have different cultural or family heritages and some who have special needs. Therefore, it is very difficult to offer a program to “one size fits all.”
Based on brain research, to promote learning, it is necessary that the task assigned to the student lies in its “zone of proximal development”. This means that the task should be slightly above the comfort level of the student.
Considering the significant differences between children – boys, girls, children who have their own optimal learning and are often from different cultures – the differentiation is the only method to develop tasks that fall within that “zone of proximal development”.
Consider the profile of each student may bring a better performance. Students will be more motivated if they perform tasks that interest them. The choice is also a motivator. Greater freedom of decision may generate greater commitment and greater productivity from students.
In a class where we practice differentiated instruction, the responsibility for learning is shared, creating a welcoming learning community where students with special needs can more easily integrate and express themselves.
Ref: C.A. Tomlinson (2003). Differentiating instruction for academic diversity. JM Cooper (Ed.) Classroom Teaching Skills, 7th ed (pp. 149-180). Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
Exploit the strengths of students.
Differentiation approach recognizes that “one size” doesn’t suit the teaching/learning process. It is while making connections between different learner profiles (multiple intelligences) and curriculum expectations that educators maximize learning opportunities.
Students differ from one another by their ability to learn, their interests, their learning styles, their autonomy and their socio-cultural environment. Educators can change the rhythm, the difficulty level or type of pedagogy based on these characteristics. This is especially relevant for students who have special needs and require technical and adapted educational support measures.
Differentiation includes the adaptation of content, process and product. The teacher must analyze the content taught and the method used. He must have identified the style of the learner and how he can best demonstrate what was taught.
The action of differentiation will be successful if the work, projects and products are based on students’ strengths and interests. Other strategies may include equipment, tasks and levels of difficulty, flexible groupings, a multisensorial approach and visual helps.
Ref: “webhost.bridgeview.edu”Sylvie Rousseau-d’Esclaibes J. Philippin-Stefansen