Are all your students in the best possible place?
Do those who need support from the wall sit next to it (remember a student might not be lazy and uninterested just because they are leaning against a wall) Are those who need to see clearly close to the board? Are those who find concentrating more difficult sitting away from attention grabbing posters or windows? Most students will automatically, even unconsciously sit in a place where they feel comfortable so you might not need to fix what is already working well.
2. The environment
Although you probably don’t have that much say in this, is your classroom a place where you would be comfortable to sit and learn?
Does the table layout support the learning you want, be it in groups or with easy access to areas to stand in groups for speaking activities? Can you, the teacher, easily access all the students to see their work? Is there as much natural light as possible? Are wall displays kept subtle and “calm” as opposed to being flashy and likely to cause sensory overload?
3. The class photo
A really quick, simple way to think about all your learners, plan your lesson with a class photo in front of you, for each activity just take a quick glance at the photo – will John be stretched in this activity? What difficulties might Jo face and how can I work round that?
4. All for One and One for All
If you know that one student works best using pastel or recycled paper to avoid glare, then use it with all the students. If you know that one student would really appreciate using a recording device to complete a dictation then offer that to all the students, you usually find that students like being stretched at those that don’t need any of the extra resources you offer won’t take them anyway. Offer a variety of scaffolds for all the class and let those who want them, take them, for example frameworks of writing texts that may involve phrases or simply starts of paragraphs, idea checklists, lists of common words or useful vocabulary according to the theme. If you give some students the opportunity to produce their work orally then let them all, etc.
5. Aim High
Finally, there’s a risk that by wanting to ensure the success of all our students we don’t push them enough, and more importantly we don’t encourage them to push themselves. So don’t forget, while offering the support mentioned above, ask them if this is their best work, what would they need to produce even better work? Remember, and remind your students that FAIL is in fact First Attempt In Learning, and that your classroom is a safe and supportive place where they can take risks in their learning, if you don’t make mistakes in the classroom, where will you?