In the last few years, people’s view of education and educationists’ approach to teaching has gone through several changes. These changes were critical and inevitable as teaching approaches catered to the “general” student for the longest time. They consisted of a standard set of approaches. The first significant shift was recognizing that not all students are the same, and educators need to give more attention to “diverse learners.”
Diverse learners include exceptional children and those with a physical or a mental disability. Research studies have consistently demonstrated that the standard pedagogical approaches are not suited for teaching diverse learners. Finally, modern-day educators have started acting upon research insights by developing innovative and novel methodologies for teaching diverse learners. It includes the integration of technological gadgets and a departure from the traditional classroom-based teaching methodologies. So, if you’re looking to develop your teaching approaches to support diverse learners, have a look below:
Critical Approach to Education
The commonly used approach for education is the “banking” model. In the banking model of education, students’ consumption and information replication gain precedence over students’ intellectual growth. This model does not account for individual differences in students and does not cater to the learning needs of diverse learners, specifically.
To begin the journey into innovation, teachers and educators should explore the alternate approach, i.e., critical pedagogy. This approach aims to raise learners’ critical consciousness and growth as intellectual individuals. For this purpose, educators currently working with or aspiring to work with diverse learners can consider enrolling in online special education programs to execute such teaching strategies effectively. The special education master’s program enables teachers to engage diverse learners by addressing their unique needs. It focuses on critical pedagogies and innovative tools for diverse learners. What’s more, working professionals can easily enroll in this program since it is entirely online.
Immersive learning has emerged as a practical approach to teaching diverse learners. It utilizes four technologies: Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), Mixed Reality (MR), and Simulation Learning. These technologies provide the learners with virtual platforms to create an immersive learning experience.
Learning in a virtual environment allows learners to cut off the real-world distractions that hinder their learning. It also provides them a safe environment to experience simulated environments and acquire skills. Besides, learning through a textbook or developing a skill in a real-world setting can be particularly challenging for diverse learners. Immersive learning is now considered the premier methodology for easing and individualizing the learning process.
Participatory, Reflection, and Analysis Tools
Participation, Reflection, and Analysis (PRA) tools are a core component of critical pedagogy. PRA tools engage learners through participatory activities to make students reflect and analyze collectively. It’s the opposite of the traditional lecture-based methodology where students lack volition. When using PRA, teachers act as facilitators with the students directing the learning. Several PRA tools can be used, such as body mapping, timeline, daily routine, and social mapping.
Body mapping is one example of how a PRA tool works. The body mapping tool aims to make children and adolescents aware of their bodies. The facilitators divide the students into groups by their biological sex. Each group then draws a diagram of a girl’s body and a boy’s body and labels the bodily organs. Subsequently, each group presents their respective diagrams and shows their bodies’ understanding.
Using Art and Theater
Given the rise in the STEAM approach, which integrates Art into STEM, educators worldwide are urging students to hone their art skills.
Using art and theater as learning mediums is an innovative and play-oriented approach to teaching diverse learners. Painting and drawing sessions allow students to explore their creative expression freely. In today’s time, theatre-based activities are highly valuable in teaching history and moral values. With the facilitation from the teacher, learners collectively choose a theme and write a simple play around it. Through the play, students learn through their dramatic and acting talents. The freedom of choice in these activities particularly excites students and allows teachers to observe each individual’s unique expression.
Developing Individualized Education Plans
To address the academic requirements of diverse learners, teachers can develop individualized education plans (IEP) for each learner in their classroom. Teachers can conduct individual sessions with children to understand each child’s learning goals, needs, and preferences. Based on these plans, teachers tailor sessions for learners and groups based on commonality in their IEPs.
This approach ensures that each diverse learner receives individualized attention and allows teachers to determine suitable learning environments for each learner.
Involving Parents and Community
The last approach focuses on including parents and the community in the learning process. Teachers can involve parents from the beginning to inform them of the learning process for children alongside the role they can play in facilitating their children’s growth. The inclusion of community is also an essential aspect, as diverse learners often feel excluded from the community at large.
Community involvement and appreciation give diverse learners a sense of inclusion and belonging and improve their social confidence. There are several ways to encourage the participation of parents and the community, for instance, attending children’s theater to give them an audience and appreciate their efforts.
Innovative and specialized approaches for teaching diverse learners are finally receiving acceptance. Educational institutes are adopting them to give diverse learners the deserved exclusive attention. For this reason, teachers can acquire online degrees to acquaint themselves with critical pedagogy and innovative tools for teaching diverse learners. Immersive learning, a technological innovation, is a groundbreaking approach that creates virtual environments to facilitate experiential learning. Likewise, PRA tools are participatory exercises to raise students’ critical consciousness and enhance their understanding of their bodies, routines, lifecycle, and communities.
Moreover, using art and theater is a play-oriented approach that allows children to express and explore their artistic and dramatic talents creatively. Now, teachers can determine each student’s learning goals and preferences through individualized educational plans and identify activities best suited to the learners’ needs. Lastly, teachers can encourage parents and community members to become involved in the learning process as observers and facilitators to promote the learners’ efforts. Their presence and appreciation provide diverse learners the sense of social inclusion they need to enhance their social functioning.