Have you ever been to a live yoga class?
I attend a yoga class through the Indian Health Care Center in my community. This weekly class has been a special gem in my week for the last four years. I would like to say that I attend on a weekly basis, but I'd be completely lying. Since Motorcycle entered my world I don't often justify ditching him on a week night after being with a babysitter all day. When I do carve time to attend, I leave being better than when I arrived.
I breathe teaching. It's what I constantly aim to improve during the 9-5 of my life, and it constitutes a great deal of passion for what makes me happy in my life. Now that I am in more of an administrative school role, I am teaching adults more often than I am teaching students. With some of our instructional shifts next year, I am going to find myself supporting, facilitating, and teaching how to differentiate learning on an individual basis for each student.
While in a new balance pose at said yoga class, the instructor gave positive reinforcement and some constructive feedback in a fluid and calm way. The lady next to me was struggling to get triangle pose with her fingers on the floor. I was able to do so, and the teacher took the opportunity to extend my learning through having me reach further and twist my core. That was the first time I noticed differentiated learning in a real world setting.
A little later in the class our teacher modeled a multi-step pose that is considered difficult. She modeled the entire pose, and then gave us details on each step while we were able to watch and ask questions. On the outset of the pose she offered us blocks to use if we desired. At first I thought I would not need the blocks, but I did indeed use them to gain my balance while holding correct form.
Aren't yoga blocks like accommodations and differentiation? I needed the blocks to accomplish the task in a high quality manner. Because I was given the blocks, I gained mastery. I wasn't cheating. I was working really hard. You could tell by the sweat beading on my face and my shaky legs. Rather than telling me to do something easier or better yet, ignoring the fact that I was struggling, the teacher offered me blocks in hope that I would utilize it to be successful.
Some times when I explain differentiation I see blank stares. Individualizing the instruction to help the learner access the knowledge is key. If you need a yoga block, your teacher gives you a yoga block. If you need a side by side model, your teacher models the process, so you can do it!