With limited staffing resources, here are teacher observations on best practices to maintain effectiveness and efficiency while reducing demands on teacher time.
• Identify Starting Points
By identifying the level in which gaps begin, you can set students up for immediate success. Starting at the level in which students are ready to learn eliminates the need for student frustration as a program scaffolds down when material is too difficult. Starting at the lowest level of need allows students to build confidence early, provides social and emotional supports and results in happier students and teachers.
• Remove Standards Students Know
Students’ gaps differ and a scripted program may only reach a handful of students at the time they need it wasting time of the others in the class. A program that truly differentiates instruction for each student at the standard level builds their engagement because students don’t feel they are wasting time on lessons they already know.
In addition, by using technology to prescribe and deliver an individualized study plan, teachers can spend less time grading papers and more time working with students.
• Employ Blended Learning Strategies
Blended Learning allows teachers to provide small group instruction to 6 to 10 students while others are fully engaged in one-to-one learning or project-based activities. Utilizing real time data to group students working on similar standards across grade level allows teachers to reach students in their zone of proximal development. This blended learning strategy also leverages the teacher student ratio. A class of 30 students can be divided into 3 groups of 10 and dynamically address each group’s needs.
Teachers may also use a flipped learning strategy technology based blended learning classroom to pre teach upcoming lessons which will also shorten lesson time.
• Motivate and Reward
Bring students into the planning and goal setting process. Providing students an opportunity to set and track their own goals reduces the time burden on teachers having to track individual progress. Set mini-targets for students each week and recognize small accomplishments with rewards such as free class time, music or games.
Many teachers utilize tools such as virtual tracking charts or punch cards.