As an emerging teacher, I look forward to the day when I am finally facilitating students’ learning in my own classroom. However, I know that it is not going to be easy. I will have a large number of students, each with individual needs and abilities. How can I best fit each one of those needs as I am trying to get the entire class to grasp a concept in the short amount of time of our class? In my opinion, this will be difficult, but not impossible. If I form relationships with each of my future individual students, I will be able to assess and group learning needs of each individual and each class. How, though, can I structure my lessons simply enough so that no one will be left behind, and challenging enough so that students are not bored?

One web-article I found from a Google News search about learning styles had a few suggestions. First, this article acknowledged that even individual students themselves have “mixed abilities,” and stated that teachers must be accomodating to these variances within their students:

All students themselves have mixed abilities, as some may find one particular task or approach more appealing then other tasks or approaches. With this in mind, some teachers may have some difficulty dealing with the different learning levels of their pupils. What they should always keep in mind is that they need to adopt a flexible methodology that allows for a variety of learning styles and abilities.

After recognizing the diversity of learning abilities within their students, teachers must try to incorporate these differences in their teaching in a process the articles names “differentiation:”

Teachers can set up classrooms where everybody works towards essential understandings and skills but uses different content, processes and products to get there. 

How though does this play out? Can it really produce effective and individually-challenging learning environments? The article gave suggestions that would possibly help work towards these goals:

Here are some tips to help you deal with heterogeneous classes:

● Try to make sure that all students understand what is happening in the lesson

● Use group work, pair work and individual work. Such activities are useful not only for the teacher to observe students but also for the students to cooperate and to learn from each other.

● Follow your course book, which may contain a variety of tasks, but also try and find supplementary materials. Since most textbooks are designed for an ideal homogeneous classroom environment, teachers always have to deal with the problem that students react to the textbook differently due to their individual differences.

● Ask open-ended questions and encourage creativity without limiting the students to single no or yes answer. These tasks allow each learner to perform at his/her own level. Some of the students may be good at understanding but might be weak in expressing themselves orally or in written work; thus, open-ended tasks give them the chance to express themselves without trying to find the one and the only correct answer

● Use visuals. They are always useful for all age and proficiency levels, so even using coloured chalk or board markers attracts learners’ attention to the teaching point. Hence, teachers can make use of visuals to grab students’ attention and to motivate them.

● Students love games, competitions and dramatisation, so these are ways of ensuring their interest in the lesson. Regardless of the differences among the students in terms of language level and learning styles, they are motivated to use the target language while they are playing a game or participating in a completion or a role-play for instance. 

I really like the suggestions that teachers must differentiate their teaching style to accommodate the individual learning differences of their students. This, to me, is my essential argument that looking into learning styles will be so beneficial for my future career. Things that help involve students, promote creativity, introduce personal stakes can enhance the classroom experience for students, making them want to learn, and excited about the subjects.
 
    “How to Teach in a Mixed Ability Class.” I’express Outlook. February 27, 2007. Full Article Here

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