Co-funded by the Erasmus+ Program of the European Union
Funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the National Agency. Neither the European Union nor National Agency can be held responsible for them.

Responsive teaching

Responsive or differentiated teaching requires teachers to pay attention to both students' diverse learning needs and the requirements of a well-structured curriculum. It encompasses modifying how students access important concepts and skills, allowing them to understand and demonstrate essential ideas in ways that make sense to them. Furthermore, responsive teaching extends to creating a conducive learning environment, while aiming to support the maximum success of each learner. To achieve this, teachers must establish positive relationships with individual students and understand the most effective learning approaches for each of them.

Also according to Tomlinson and to the DI framework, there are some good reasons why students benefit of responsive teaching:

  • When teachers prioritize teacher-student relationships, it enhances students' enthusiasm for learning. Positive relationships foster student motivation as they feel valued and encouraged to take risks in the learning process.
  • Additionally, creating an affirming and inclusive learning environment contributes to a favorable climate for learning. When students feel affirmed, connected, and responsible for the welfare of the group, it sets the stage for consistent partnerships that help students navigate both success and failure as part of their personal growth.
  • Acknowledging students' backgrounds and needs establishes connections between learners and the subject matter, making it more relevant and engaging.
  • Recognizing student readiness is crucial for academic growth since students thrive when challenged slightly beyond their current abilities and provided with appropriate support.

Also, student interest plays a significant role in motivating learning: by sparking curiosity, discovering and incorporating students' specific interests, and demonstrating the relevance of ideas and skills to their interests, teachers can cultivate eagerness and willingness to learn.

Finally, adapting to students' learning profiles enables efficient learning by allowing them to work in their preferred learning modes. Removing barriers to learning by accommodating different learning styles facilitates the learning process, particularly when students already face substantial challenges.

Differentiation is not the same thing as individualization - we will also cover this in Resource 2.2. Redesigning instruction for every single student looks very difficult if not utopic, considering the wide range of diverse needs they may have, such as cultural and language differences, reading or writing struggles, behavioral challenges, advanced performance, or challenging home environments. Instead, teachers can benefit a larger number of students by implementing instructional patterns that can address multiple needs. While it's still valuable to study individuals and make adjustments to teaching strategies, it is advantageous to begin with implementing patterns and approaches that benefit students with similar needs, without relying on labels. The following 10 teaching patterns, also described by Tolminson (2003) transcend student categories and contribute to academic success for a broad range of learners:

  1. Build intentional relationships with students through regular interactions, such as addressing them by name, engaging in dialogue journals, and taking observational notes;
  2. Incorporate small-group teaching to target instruction and address different student needs;
  3. Focus on teaching to the high end by implementing strategies that challenge highly capable students and support all students in developing complex and creative thinking skills;
  4. Provide diverse opportunities for students to explore and express their learning through various avenues that align with their strengths and interests;
  5. Use informal assessments, like exit cards, to monitor student understanding and inform instructional planning;
  6. Employ multiple teaching methods, such as part-to-whole and whole-to-part explanations, visual aids, modeling, and student-centered examples;
  7. Integrate basic reading strategies throughout the curriculum to enhance purpose and comprehension;
  8. Allow students the option to work alone or collaborate with peers based on their preferences, as it can positively impact their learning;
  9. Utilize clear rubrics that guide students toward quality work and encourage metacognition about their own progress;
  10. Foster a taste for diversity by creating an inclusive classroom environment that values multiple perspectives, encourages diverse problem-solving approaches, incorporates culturally relevant materials, and explores students' backgrounds and cultures.
© 2024 InDO. All rights reserved.