How does a teacher cater to the educational needs of all the students in a class?

By editor_en | Aug 30, 2012

As a teacher it is essential to cater to the learning needs of all the students in the class. How would you suggest teachers ensure that students  from diverse backgrounds, with different abilities are engaged in the class?

author_en's picture

The teacher has to give attention to every student of the class. One important condition for this is the number of students in a classroom should be less.

editor_en's picture

Unfortunately, given the fact that most government schools in India don’t have that luxury, one has to think of addressing this problem in other creative ways like differentiated instruction. How does one effectively communicate with all students in a large classroom?

Tushar Tamhane's picture

Probably, will need to Define some phrases like :
Educational needs
All students
etc. . .
As I feel that there are many ASSUMPTIONS behind each of these phrases.
Also, is this only the FACILITATOR'S(TEACHER, in this case)responsibility to ENGAGE each and every LEARNER (Student) ?
What is the expectations from the LEARNER ?
Duration of the Class is also an important factor.
face to face interaction or one - on - one via skype or other media, what are the challenges.
relevance of Classroom teaching and learning is also another thing.
Hope to see more insightful responses from the . . .

editor_en's picture

You have brought up an important point. True, the teacher as the facilitator does not have to take the responsibility for engaging each and every learner. The debate here is not really so much on the role of the facilitator but on the different levels of learners and their different needs. Are there creative ways to meet these different needs to the extent possible? Can the teacher be enabled to meet them in some ways or is it an entirely unrealistic expectation?

ANANDHI's picture

Teacher has to identify the caliber of the students first and then give the input accordingly .. High achievers may be given challenging assignments ,whereas low achievers must be given the content matter in capsule form and they need more counseling

rajini's picture

Slightly going off-topic, let me share a true story account of a (math teacher) friend of mine. He NEVER gave math problems in incremental difficulty. He kept the toughest one somewhere in the middle and finish off the class with less tougher ones to give them a sense of completion, a sense of achievement at the end of any class. A buddy system (where he shuffles the two-member team every week) to nurture the peer learning is one more thing he devised. In that way he was able to instill group participation, in some degree a sense of equality, readiness to accept different learning paces, respect for other members of the group.

Deepti Prasad's picture

I liked this tactic very much...even though I'm not a maths can be used in whatever tasks we set for our students. Varying the difficulty level of the questions and concluding with easier ones should help the task to conclude on a higher note!

binoy.dubey's picture

Teachers have to make rapport with every children and know the psychology of them implicitly and explicitly.

p.c.kimothi's picture


priya12's picture

In a govenrment school, where MGML is prevalent, it is extremely challenging for a teacher to give equal attention to students with varied educational needs .

chhotelal.tanwar's picture

First of all we should assess previous knowledge of the students , than we make levelwise sub groups and plan according to them

Tushar Tamhane's picture

Everyone is looking for some positive pat on the back and even an eye to eye contact can mean SO MUCH. Let there be SUCCESS for everyone in whatever form in a CLASS ! are we asking too much ?
CHALLENGE which is APPROPRIATE for every willing participant - how do we attempt that ?
QUESTIONING and not giving ready answers . . . but giving hints . . .may be . . . Let us continue our journey . .. . and discussion. .

Tushar Tamhane's picture

Seems rather CHALLENGING even to persue it further ? ? ?

satishpujari's picture

First of all I think teachers need to spend more time with the students and understand their likes and dislikes. He/She should have a good knowledge of child psychology. Frequent meetings with parents/guardians shuold be planned. Knowing all these things will help the teacher to cater the learning needs of all the students in the class...

PriyankaG's picture

I feel that there are some problems we have to keep in mind which are:
1. number of students in classrooms is high
2. students have different learning levels
3. students come from different backgrounds and in some parts of India it goes beyond social and economic to caste and class

These are problems that are currently there and as someone has mentioned earlier we need to find creative ways to tackle the problem while knowing the challenges we have.

I would suggest:
1. as a teacher take time to understand each student, their learning levels, their personal issues, etc.
2. on gaining this information start holding group activities as a main tool for classroom teaching
3. Try to put students of same learning levels in the same groups. Shared learning helps in students respecting and learning from one another, they learn the concept of sharing and team work
4. The teacher/facilitator should give activities or discussion questions based on their learning levels where in the students who are at lower levels are given activities where the topic is made to challenge them so that we can try to get them closer to the rest while the students at higher levels are given more of practice work. One should try to get all students slow and steady on a similar level. There will still always be about 4% of the class that will require special attention which is comparatively better to manage than having an entire class at different learning levels.
5. Have talk sessions at east thrice a week for 10 minutes before the starting of some class so that children learn to share with one another their feelings as well as ideas. This larger group experience will help them get comfortable with the concept of group work when divided during class. These sessions should be guided by the teacher well so that a culture is created.

Overall, this process requires a lot of planning for the teachers (I'm sorry teachers, if we want to do it right, it's a tough job) and as rightly put by many others understanding each student is extremely important

I've tried to give one micro level solution to a very big issue. All I can say I hope it helps!

alwaysateacher's picture

that is really a cool way of tackling issues...

sujathar's picture

A teacher can in her own little way definitely cater to the learning needs of all children in her class... firstly by knowing the learning levels of each child in her class...provided the numbers in the class are around 30.... and also depending on how much time she gets to spend with these children daily. Encouragement, extra help for those who need it, motivating bright students to learn beyond their text books, constant appreciation and showing you care are definitely helpful in achieving this .I ,as a teacher am constantly striving to make this happen every year....

nehardave's picture

I alway have liked the online education which keeps them engaged

gladsonme's picture

thanks for the discussion. one thing which i as a beginner in the field of education have seen is that. teacher as an individual may be doing good but when it comes to a school and teacher's' there is very little team work among them. teachers working as a team; sharing their opinion would be very much effective in understanding each and every kid.

alwaysateacher's picture

I accept this.. As the scenario provided by the co-member. when it comes to a school, not a single teacher will be taking care of a single class, but 2 to 5 teachers are handling a single class. so there should be a harmony among teachers, so that we can indulge into the activity of finding the necessity of every child.

sugandhi's picture

Very interesting discussion. Thought I will contribute too. I feel a teacher should walk into the classroom with the idea of 'touching lives' rather than 'teaching'. For that to happen, I agree with most of you, the teacher must be dealing with a class of max.30 students. She should spend time to get to know them not as academic consumers but as human beings with spirit. She can bring about a radical change in the learning pattern of the so called slow-bloomers but boosting their morale, but dynamically grouping children of different learning patterns. In every group there are talkers, doers and observers. Each contributor must be observed and appreciated. Slowly the non-interested students will start believing in their potential to learn and flower. Every teacher who walks into the class must view students from the same paradigm, or else it will create a conflict in the students which might defeat the very idea of cooperating blooming. Yes, there is a difficulty here. The good students (the academically good ones) might carry themselves a little aloof and might look down upon the others. Here the teacher plays the facilitator of social building -- she makes these students understand that there is more to a person than academic performance and differences need to be celebrated. The onus of building a futuristic nation which is adaptive to the society, appreciative of small actions and who are dynamic and enterprising, all fall on us as teachers....Thank you

Deepti Prasad's picture

The teacher can plan lessons and tasks based on the needs of the learners and assign them accordingly. As an alternative, she can put up a list of topics and allow the students to choose whatever suits them best. All these tactics will not work in our conventional written exam system but all through the year if students are given different opportunities to learn differently then they may perform better in their exams. Plus they will have enjoyed the different learning experiences provided to them without feeling intimidated.

Deepti Prasad's picture

The teacher can plan lessons and tasks based on the needs of the learners and assign them accordingly. As an alternative, she can put up a list of topics and allow the students to choose whatever suits them best. All these tactics will not work in our conventional written exam system but all through the year if students are given different opportunities to learn differently then they may perform better in their exams. Plus they will have enjoyed the different learning experiences provided to them without feeling intimidated.

Nikhil Pant's picture

Hi! I have been a math teacher in a school for 15 years (Classes V - X). Being a Civil Engg, I attempted different ways to find a way around this challenge. Sharing below a model I trialed with reasonable success:


For school children to enjoy mathematics it is extremely important that the ‘fear’ of the subject in the minds and hearts of these students is gradually removed. In most school-going children, the very thought of a maths exam is enough to give them sleepless nights, and very often an ‘examination fever’. As a result the parents of these children too begin to get nightmares, and in their hysteria they seek short-cut measures to help their ward tide over this problem. But they fail to find a sustainable answer to their child’s dilemma. Infact, many of them begin to recall how they too had spent sleepless nights over maths exams during their school days. Most of them feel that by appointing a good tutor, they will be able to help their child outgrow the problem. Sadly, they are mistaken. A good tutor can definitely solve the child’s mathematical problems - topic wise - but he is a poor substitute for one who can motivate the child to start enjoying mathematics as a subject. Enjoyment is associated with the thrill, the excitement and the happiness that a child experiences on successfully solving a problem without external assistance. The child exults by ‘punching’ the air just like a tennis player does on hitting an ace, or what a bowler does when he outwits a batsman and gets him out. Very often, the student of mathematics today is deprived of this sensation of ‘vanquishing the problem’, since the child is invariably provided with ready-made answers by the teachers, tutors or else by the plethora of ‘guides’ available in the market. All these are mere ‘props’ that only provide the child a vain sense of security. It is only when the exams arrive that the child is suddenly confronted by the reality of the situation - the reality that everybody is alone in this world when it comes to fighting such battles. In such a situation the child feels lost and often resorts to unfair means to cross the examination hurdle. When things reach such a pass, the parents begin to blame the school, while the school and the teachers point their fingers towards the parents for neglecting their ward. Neither party realises that due to this confrontation of transferring responsibility, the child has been deprived of one of the most fundamental rights - the right to experience bliss and happiness, right within the classroom! This is perhaps the earliest occasion when we can help the child in getting the first spiritual experience in life.

The realisation that the source of happiness lies ‘within’ is the first step the child takes towards eventually experiencing the ‘Divine presence’ inside. The experience of ‘triumph over the problem’ gives the child enough motivation to delve further into the mysteries of numbers associated with mathematics. The desire and thirst to unravel these mysteries pushes the child further and further. This outward quest subsequently brings the child closer to understanding the ‘self’ that lies within.

In order to create an environment in the class-room where the above ideas could be inculcated, the following method was experimented successfully in classes VIIth and Xth at Manava Bharati India International School, New Delhi :
1. The class is divided into a number of Study Groups (SG).
2. Each SG consists of 5-7 students, preferably from the same residential locality.
3. The SG is headed by two Group Leaders (GLs). They are students amongst the given SG who have secured the highest marks in maths in the last exam conducted by the school.
4. Members of the SG are requested to exchange their addresses and telephone nos. to promote out-of-school interaction within the SG.
5. During the maths period, each SG is asked to sit together to promote peer-group learning.
6. The instructor guides the class through a brief period of 2-5 minutes of meditation at the very start of the period. This prepares the mind of the children for imbibing the basics of the topic better.
7. The effort of the maths instructor during a period should be to explain the basic fundamentals of the topic, and solve a few conceptual questions on the blackboard.
8. During some part of the period, the instructor engages the students in ‘mathematics games’ based on the topic. These would depend on the ingenuity of the instructor. For all the ‘games’ children should be awarded points on the basis of their performance. These points should then be reduced to marks as part of their class-assessment work. The instructor must ensure that the weaker children / the back-benchers also take part in this activity. Some examples could be as follows :
• Children are asked to solve questions on the board, and then assessed on the basis of time taken and solutions obtained. These questions could also be the difficulties brought forward by the students themselves.
• A ‘race’ may also be held between two students both of whom know how to solve a given problem.
• Children may be asked to frame a question for a given answer from the topic under discussion in the class.
• Children may be asked to develop crossword puzzles, quizzes etc. on the concerned topic.
• The instructor may also judiciously introduce the game of chess in the class to further enhance the childs mental ability.
9. The instructor must inspire the SG enough so that healthy intra-SG interaction gets promoted, by moving around the class, one SG to another, to see that this takes place.
10. As far as possible, the instructor should only provide hints and clues to stimulate the child’s thought processes, and not solve questions himself.
11. The instructor should ensure that the GLs are well equipped to handle the minor problems of the SG members. However, if the GLs too are unable to handle a problem, the instructor must then guide the SG appropriately.
12. At times, inter-SG interactions may also be permitted by the instructor if the need arises.
13. Each SG is motivated by the instructor to meet atleast twice in a month, by rotation, in the house of one of the members. If this works out well, then mathematics too can become a reason for children to socialise. All members visiting the hosts house should carry their tiffins, so that after discussing maths they can all enjoy a pooled lunch! The parents of the host-member should make it a point to participate in this endeavour, and thus motivate the SG to develop camaraderie and team spirit.
14. The maths instructor initially checks the copy of the GLs. On the basis of these checked copies the other members of the SG first check their own copies with a pencil, and subsequently submit them for the instructors checking. This process of double checking eliminates all kinds of mistakes, and the child is able to grasp the fundamentals of the topic better.
15. Each member of the SG is asked to maintain a page in the maths notebook as a ‘Progress Sheet’, through which they monitor their own progress in mathematics over a period of time. The instructor assists them in maintaining this Sheet.
16. The effort of the instructor should be to promote truthfulness amongst the children - during classwork as well as homework, by encouraging them to solve questions honestly to the best of their ability.
17. The instructor could devise a system by which those weak in maths are not overburdened by classwork / homework by giving them typical questions to solve and then monitoring their performance closely. Meanwhile, the brighter students could be taxed more so as to make them even better. The overall effort here should be such that over the coming months the weaker children are able to catch up with the brighter ones in the class and the brighter ones become even better, so that the overall standard of mathematics in class goes up.
18. The GLs should change if in the next maths exam any other member of the SG acquires the highest marks. In other words, at any given time the two members with the highest marks in the last maths exam will be the GLs. This acts as a motivation and incentive to others in the SG to excel.
19. The instructor should also allay the ‘fears’ of ‘insecure’ mathematics toppers as well as others in the class by encouraging them to share their knowledge and information with the weaker students in the class, as part of a wider process to enhance their own mathematical ability. This effort is based on the precept that ‘knowledge increases by sharing’, and that ‘by helping others one is helping oneself’.
20. The instructor must make it a point to appreciate the GLs, SGs and individual students whenever they exhibit sparks of excellence during the period.
21. Innovative art-forms may also be adopted to make the instruction more interesting and enjoyable.
22. The instructor may encourage the use of ‘re-cycled’ math copies/files. This may be done by tearing blank pages from old unused copies & creating new registers/files out of them. This helps to inculcate the habit of conserving paper – which reduces the demand to cut more trees. Such linkages need to be communicated to children during the classroom situation to make the exercise more meaningful. Additional points/marks may also be allotted for such interventions.
23. This entire process of mathematical instruction should be a dynamic flow of ideas and viewpoints between the instructor, the students, and their parents. Thus, the instructor should always be open to new methods of instruction and rectification within the classroom.
Once children start experiencing the joy and excitement associated with solving a mathematical problem themselself through a method like the one discussed above, they would begin to enjoy tackling even the most difficult of problems in the subject. This would enhance their thirst for mathematics, and very soon the fear of maths would be replaced by an indomitable spirit to question the very basics of mathematical principles, and to investigate how these principles are of relevance to our daily life. This process would then open the doors of a spiritual journey towards fulfilment and bliss that the child experiences right within the four walls of the classroom.
The instructor must also attempt to impart “value-education” to the students through the various mathematical topics under discussion. For example, in the chapter on Income Tax and Sales Tax, the child should be taught not only how to calculate these taxes, but :
• payment of Income Tax is the duty of the individual. The children may then persuade their parents, and relatives to file their taxes with honesty if they are not doing so. Besides, when these children grow up they are themselves likely to become honest taxpayers, thereby playing the role of responsible citizens of the nation.
• payment of Sales Tax is also the duty of the individual. They would request their parents, relatives and friends to always ask for a receipt / bill while shopping, and in the process pay the due Sales Tax.
• the citizens of a country must elect only those representatives to Parliament who work towards framing appropriate tax laws so that the money collected through various taxes is properly utilised for public use. If this does not happen, they must express their views through forums like the media so that enough pressure is exerted on those in power to fall in line.
In this way the child not only begins to enjoy mathematics but is also trained to become an active agent of positive social change. It would be better to understand here that the ‘satyagrah’ of the children on their parents, relatives and friends is perhaps the most powerful tool for social reform in a country like India. What laws cannot achieve might become possible through the positive pressure of school children.
Suitable use of technology must also be integrated into the above approach. Each SG may be asked to make power point presentations about their group dynamics, make their own blogs, evolve e-groups etc. This way ‘responsible use of technology’ comes out as a useful by-product.

ramanatha.sastry's picture

dear Nikhil Pant,
my appreciations to you, i read your post carefully and understood how much efforts you are making. please keep it up.
how ever please look at my point of view.
When teachers are responsible for learning, why the system is directing them to move ahead even if many of students are not achieved what they have to.
Are the teachers meant for completing syllabus specified (from heavens) leaving learning to students requirements, even if more than 60% of the class strength is lagging behind?
It is students fault? Or can we simply question teacher’s ability?
Is it possible to get the roses from all the plants in a garden in a stipulated time? Or is it inability of gardener or plant?
Is there any ways, methodologies, or technologies available to pluck the roses from the bud in specified time?
Or training programs every year make changes?
In my opinion, complete transformation is essential of time, before time flowing out.
Starting from ‘fixed time, fixed syllabus’, teaching learning process, text book designing and......
please look at my blog post and offer your insights

rajanipandey's picture

As a teacher we should always have thoughts of engaging children according to their needs . In a classroom we find different levels of children so when we plan for a lesson to be taken in a class we should take care that we include many different kinds of activites to our learning outcome so that all the kinds of learners get chance to learn at their pace.

jonmarcumkeys's picture

This is a great way to discuss on how education is the most fundamental element of individuality. Quality education is the great way to achieve success and accordingly develops students needs for the future hope!

sowbhagyakrishnan's picture

The teacher can cater to the slow learners first ,then use the excellent ones tosupport the class room discussion
At the end of the day every child should be able to answer.

nasir's picture

Nice discussion!!once the students enroll in the class,whatever may be the problems of teachers,students or management, every student should cater.Than the question will arise...HOW?The teaching is a mission not a profession.once you have taken it as a mission than all the problems will automatically solved and you by yourself find out the solution and every student will get your individual attention.

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