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How do you individualize your teaching? How do you handle the different ability levels of students in classes?

Unless there is a student in my class with an IEP, I will not make modifications to my lesson plans. In every grade there will be different levels of students in regards to their academic levels. As a professional it is important to time manage in order to reach out to every student. Some children may need more guidance, and that is why a teacher must allot time before or after school on certain occasions to reach these children. In order for this to be successful, you must make an open and inviting atmosphere where children feel comfortable to confront you with such issues. We guide lessons towards a goal and it should be no different when it comes to guiding students towards understanding. 

I think is it important that each student feels challenged in my classroom. Each student is at a different level in each class, and it is important that students be pushed to become better, no matter what level they are at. I strive to individually challenge my students to do better work then they did the last time, and to improve upon their skill level, no matter what that level currently is. 

Individualizing your teaching is a very important thing for teachers to do. Every student is of varying ability and needs to get appropriate treatment. One way I try to adapt to different student needs is to use good scaffolding while teaching lessons. I always check in on my students that need more help and/or are having difficulty to make sure they understand the material. On the flip side I try to challenge the more gifted students so that they are always being pushed to progress more. Also in my preparation I try to set up my lessons to fit all different student needs. I always keep a large schedule up on the blackboard so students who need to know the routine can keep informed. Another technique I use is to differentiate the assignments so that all student interests are met. For this reason it is very important to know your students in your classrooms. 

Handling different ability levels in the classroom was a challenge for me in my first student teaching placement. One girl was a grade level behind in math, and though there was an IEP for her the associate teacher did not immediately make me aware of this, and he seemed to do his “own thing” with her. I found that this girl was literally an afterthought in math class. After the teacher taught the lesson and students had practice time, only then would the teacher consult with the girl and get her going on her own level appropriate work.
I do not fault the associate teacher at all. In fact, I ended up doing the same thing even though in my head I knew it wasn’t the best way. I wasn’t sure how to teach 22 students one lesson, and then teach one girl another in the same period.
As I mentioned above, the solution in part to this solution should be increased differentiation. In regards to math class, I always gave time in the middle of the class for students to solve a few problems on their own in small groups, after which we regrouped and talked about their answers. During this time the girl who was behind would follow along as best she could, patiently waiting until the end of class to receive her lesson and work. I think in the future this differentiated time could be used more efficiently to help the girl; or if there happened to be other students needing individualized attention this time while other students are solving problems would be effective. More than just utilizing class time effectively is being prepared to utilize it correctly. Before class I as teacher should be prepared with problems and quick lessons to help those students needing extra attention. It should never be done on the fly – having material prepared for that certain girl would have been much more helpful instead of just hoping she would get something out of the other students’ lessons.
Finally the teacher has to be careful not to single out the students who need this extra attention. Preparation helps, because you do not want to “punish” these students by keeping them after class or in during lunch, so having work ready when the other students have time to do theirs is crucial.
Teaching different abilities all comes down to how one runs their classroom. If the teacher is the “guide on the side” and has time for students to explore new concepts during every lesson then it is this “exploration” that different abilities have time to explore the concepts at their own level. The teacher has to be prepared for this and have a range of activities ready for that lesson to cater to all needs.

When your teaching centers around the students you do not have to think about individualizing it, that comes naturally. 

After the midterm, I look at the grades of students and find those who scored below 60%. I do not worry about the others but just make sure I am around to answer questions. However with the lower group, I invite them to come is small groups to my office and I try to engage them in the material. This seems most effective when I can get them discussing between them. That is Peer learning again. 

The programs I oversee are different than the regular classroom setting. We group our students together in small groups based on assessments. Group sizes are generally small. 

The component that makes the difference is to b aware of the multiple learning styles... Know the learning style to achieve the desired results. Here's a blog post about EasyPhonics and multiple learnign styles: http://www.skillado.com/blog/multiple-learning-styles-easyphonics%E2%84%A2-reading-program - it partially addresses the question. 

As much as possible, keep the students learning from each other. 

It is often hard to individualize in big lectures but we have seminars which allow more interactive one-to-one teaching.

I ensure that students with different learning styles as well as special needs are not being left out and make them aware of different learning options.

You have to learn to observe, we all are very different. And you have to adapt to the needs of everyone. Clarify, ask questions in a respectful way, observe, some might need more help than others, but never let that person feel inferior, outcast, find what ability that student has and take advantage, I mean use that in class so he can be a part as he learn. 

I approach my classes differently, according to the individuals I am teaching. As for differences in their levels, my classes are usually on identical ability level, so I do not need to use specific techniques as to that. 

Each class is designed based on the student's needs and skills. 

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