Improve Students' Self-Esteem with Differentiated Instruction Interventions

by HealthforLife

See how interventions for differentiated instructions introduce a new learning strategy for children struggling through new concepts and ultimately improve their self-esteem.

A Guide to Boosting Student Morale through Differentiated Instruction

 As a teacher, have you ever wanted to 'hit your head against a wall' because you felt tapped out and weren't able to find another new strategy to try with a student?  As a parent, have you ever been at your wit's end and are at the point that you're willing to try just about anything to regain a happy household?  One strategy to consider is interventions for differentiated instructions.

Students Come First
Differentiated instruction puts the students first.  This instruction method is not about what is best for a teacher or what fits with a state's agenda; instead it focuses on what is best for the students' learning.  The students' needs and preferences are addressed before anything else is considered.  The intervention goals are all student centered.  Whether they are academic, behavioral, or social goals, the focus is on the student work.  When students are able to raise their academic achievement or achieve new behaviors or social skills, they will feel better about themselves.

Differentiate Instruction

Research Behind the Intervention Strategy

Interventions for differentiated instructions are supported by research in three main areas that back the work of Jerome Bruner, Lev Vygotsky, and Howard Gardner. ((

  • Learning styles and multiple intelligences
  • Research that is brain-based
  • authentic assessment

All three of these areas are covered within this article.

Initial Customization Can Provide an Instant Ego Boost

 Differentiated instruction allows for tailored materials and instruction, which includes pacing, assignment structuring, and delivery of material within a structured environment with high expectations. This level of customization will make students feel as though a huge weight has been lifted off their shoulders.  While a teacher or parent has been ready to 'bang his/her head against a wall', most likely the student has been feeling the same way.  This fresh start with materials and instructions will allow for an initial self-esteem boost.

What to Avoid During the Intervention Process

It is equally important to consider what intervention for differentiated instructions does not include so that further frustration from all parties can be avoided as much as possible.  One of the key aspects of the instruction is that it does not focus on student weaknesses or peer comparisons. In many circumstances, students are already well aware of their discrepancies with their peers and do not need further evidence to lower their self-esteem.

Pre-Assessment: Don't Skip this Step!

 Before you begin the process of intervention, it is easy to assume that you know your students' present achievement levels.  Even if you have some initial data, it's important to do your own assessment.  The act of completing the assessment provides a clear illustration for students about your level of commitment, which may provide an initial self-esteem boost.

Now it's Time to Start Planning - Flexibility is the Key

Your current group of students and their preferences and learning styles will dictate the level of structure in your classroom.  Keep an open mind as you are planning.  Your willingness to change for your students is really important for them and their self-esteem because it provides a clear illustration of how highly you value their needs and preferences.

As you are planning, consider using direct teaching, inquiry-based learning, cooperative learning, and information processing strategies in your lessons that incorporate Bloom's Taxonomy. As you become comfortable with multiple teaching strategies, it will become easier to determine the time and place for using each teaching strategy and differentiating to fit the taxonomy.  Providing this variation of styles throughout each week will keep student motivation and interest high and will increase success rates, which will equal higher self-esteem.

Include Varied Instructional Activities

An added component of instructional variation will also keep up your students' interest and motivation.  As your knowledge base about your students grows, you will be able to add more instructional activities that appeal to them.  For example, if a number of your students frequently seek computer work, consider online games that provide academic reinforcement.  Look for activities that cover different academic areas and consider games that provide tailoring to students' specific levels.  Again, this tailoring will lead to a higher rate of success, creating a greater chance of increasing self-esteem.

Finish with Appropriate Assessments and Evaluations

Your students will go out with a bang if they are able to complete assessments and evaluations that are differentiated for their needs.  Consider offering multiple options for assessments so that students can choose methods that will provide personal success.  Strategies to consider include written work, illustrations, oral presentations, other performance-based assessment, portfolios, rubrics, and knowledge mapping.  Give your students every chance possible for success.  The extra effort required for this process will be rewarded when students proudly display their work for their classmates and parents.

Would Differentiated Instruction and Intervention Help with your Student/Child?

Real Life Classroom Applies Differentiated Instruction

Updated: 03/30/2012, HealthforLife
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