Some hard questions for both new and veteran teachers: What do I need to do to succeed with my diverse students? How can I engage and motivate each of them? How can I differentiate my lesson? Let’s begin with these five recommendations, drawn from research-based teaching strategies:
1. Learn as much as you can about your students. Each student come from with a myriad of background skills, experiences, or even local and regional languages. There are free websites that could be helpful,, where you can create your own questions based on grade level, subject, specific skills/talents and more. In my experience, the first few days back to school are a great time to begin a survey.
2. Foster ongoing relationships. Knowing each of your student and making an effort to foster that relationship will significantly affect learning. We all know time can be our greatest enemy, but small opportunities such as an informal chat when your student to the cafeteria, playground or even walking in the hallways can build a personal connection between you and the student. I always ask a follow-up question, look back and reflect on what the student likes or dislikes based on the survey I gave.
3. Connect with home, family and the community. Knowing the family is as important as knowing your student. Making home and family connections helps each student feel a sense of welcoming from you. Also, a positive phone call is a good way to start an upbeat relationship with parents. In addition, I try to connect with the community in ways as simple as grocery shopping, attending church or even walking my dog.
4. Collaborate with colleagues. More than ever, our job as a teacher is to collaborate. We dissect student data; we plan together; we adjust instruction based on colleagues’ suggestions and recommendations; we continually learn, train and attend professional development sessions during the school year and summer months. Strong collaboration with colleagues is the new norm. My advice: accept it with open mind, heart and soul. At the end of the day, it is for the good of all students.
5. Learn, explore, and try new teaching strategies. There are hundreds to thousands of teaching strategies out there. However, they all boil down to identifying targeted needs for each and every student, based on his or her academic strengths and challenges. Finally, I leave you with this famous quote: “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” (By: Benjamin Franklin) So, let’s truly engage our children of today for they will be the leaders of tomorrow…Many thanks for reading my post. Please write your comments, ideas, and suggestions below.

Edgardo Castro