NARROWING THE ACHIEVEMENT GAP – 6 STRATEGIES FOR EDUCATORS
Educators often find it challenging to teach slow learners. These students require more time, effort, and attention from their mentors. Although, the majority of the teachers believe that what’s more challenging is teaching a class that is a combination of bright and struggling students. When you are teaching fifty students and some of them learn too quickly, while others are still stuck on page one, it can get hard to decide whether to move forward or wait.
Achievement Gap is a very common thing in large class settings. It is an academic term that refers to the disparity in academic performance among students. Some students are sharper than others and they grasp complicated concepts and lessons easier and quicker while others struggle with the very same lesson. It is quite unfortunate for the students and it has a bad impact on educator’s teaching practices as well. From cultural differences to socio-economic issues, there are many factors that could contribute to this gap. Students who didn’t get enough parental attention in their academic life may also have a slow learning capacity.
Teachers who don’t understand the importance of bridging the achievement gap often have a repetitive number of overachievers in their class. The bright students keep succeeding, whereas the struggling ones keep failing. This results in poor overall class learning and is proof of a teacher’s failure to tend to a large class aptly.
Dealing with such a class can be extremely challenging as it is evident from student results that your teaching techniques are not working out for all the students. Adjusting your methods according to the personal needs of every single student can also be near impossible when you are teaching a large class.
Here’s what teachers can do to close or narrow down the achievement gap in their classroom;
Provide a Detailed and Rigorous Syllabus
This is the key step to attaining the perfect balance in class. Before initiating the learning, design a syllabus that is detailed, comprehensive, and challenges the students. Experts found out that when the class curriculum is rigorous, all students are likely to work harder and achieve high results. Usually, it happens when teachers prepare a syllabus, they keep it concise and jump directly to advanced topics or skip advanced topics entirely because some students can’t perform well. It is recommended to create a curriculum that focuses briefly on basics and then don’t be afraid to move on to advanced topics.
Use Formative Assessment
If you are using a comprehensive syllabus, you must ensure that it is fulfilling its purpose. To analyze its efficacy, ditch other methods of assessment and go for formative assessment. Keep track of their progress from time to time and change your teaching style accordingly. This step is important for all types of student in your class whether they are struggling or not.
Grit is an old concept in the educational world that has just acquired a name for itself. Experts define grit as the student’s ability to fight against the odds even when they are academically struggling. It is their ability to work towards the attainment of a goal. Teachers can help students stay motivated despite failures and help them achieve goals in the long run. It is a very important part to narrow down the achievement gap, as even some smart students give up in class after failing in a small test. Therefore, it is important for teachers to use different techniques and methods to enhance student engagement and motivation in order to keep their spirits up.
Productivity at Home
One of the many reasons why some students don’t perform well in class is because they don’t study at home. A study showed that students who revised and read at home performed better than those who played video games and indulged in other unproductive activities. Teachers can motivate the students to study at home by incorporating digital methods into learning. Teachers can use mobile applications to send assignments to students, make a shared journal to mark their performance, and mail them to keep up with their progress. When students are connected with teachers even at home, it would directly boost up their class performance.
Observe and Apply
It’s not always socio-economic factors that cause the achievement gap, sometimes it is the teacher who doesn’t realize that some learning methods are just not working at all. If you think your methods are expanding the achievement gap, then you may want to reevaluate them. The best thing to do in this situation is to leave it on the students to decide what methods they prefer. Give them a week-long target and observe the learning methods they apply in order to complete the given task. After analyzing their performance on the test, you can apply the same methods that students chose for themselves. This would help you narrow down the achievement gap much quicker.
Observe the students who performed badly on your week-long target, following the previous step. When nothing works out, the best way is to pick out those students and personalize their learning. You can communicate with them personally and inquire about the problems they face in class. Recommend the learning techniques that are suitable for them. You can also assign them a different type of work to do at home so that they can come prepared in class and participate in class activities with other students. This would help you systematically teach the class without making any changes for a few students.
Narrowing down the student achievement gap in class should be the first priority of any teacher. It is not only for the sake of students, but closing down this gap also helps the educator teach the class smoothly. After a while, you won’t have to pay special attention to selective students, pause between lectures, and hold back important assignments. It is an essential step to increase the overall class learning and teachers must train themselves to deal with achievement gap.News/Post Source:Internet - Ella Wilson, IAO