Instructional supports refer to those in- and out-of-class scaffolds that ensure that all students, regardless of previous academic preparation, can meet high expectations and rigorous standards. Student-centered schools support students’ ongoing academic development. In-class strategies include using differentiated materials, using student peer-teachers as an instructional resource, teaching to multiple modalities, and heterogeneous grouping to foster a high level of academic access for those who might otherwise struggle independently. In addition, advisory systems that offer additional support include targeted support for specific populations of students, such as English language learners, and after school supports such as teacher office hours, tutoring programs, and mentoring. Instructional supports can help build student capacity, self-confidence, and motivation through the provision of additional scaffolds so that students can access and excel in completing rigorous work. These supports become necessary for students to engage with curriculum and peers at the level required by student-centered practices.
Questions for reflection:
1) When students don’t understand what’s happening in class, what strategies do you employ to ensure that they can get on track?
2) What in-class strategies do you use to differentiate instruction for students who need more of a challenge and for those who need additional scaffolding?
3) How might you engage high-achieving students in supporting their peers (during class or outside of class)?
4) How are low-achieving students valued and active contributors to a positive growth-mindset learning culture?
Scaffolds and Expectations
5) How are learning goals and expectations made clear to students in your class? How do you know students understand what is expected of them?
6) How do you structure your instruction to scaffold student learning for students who enter the classroom with vastly different knowledge and skill levels?
7) How do you provide opportunities for struggling students to get sufficient opportunities to practice and demonstrate their learning, while those who are excelling can extend and apply their learning in novel contexts?
8) What resources does your school have to support students when it seems you’re at a loss for what to do next?
9) How are students’ social, emotional, physical, and mental health needs addressed in your school?
10) What systems do you have in place in your school to monitor and support student progress?
11) How do your school’s student supports ensure that all students can meet high expectations?
12) How do your student supports help students set short- and long-term goals?
13) How do your student supports help students stay on track to graduate and prepare for college and career?
14) How are students supported in the transition to high school? And the transition to college or career post-high school?
15) How are special education students and students with learning challenges supported within the classroom and by the school?
16) How do your school and teachers ensure that English language learners are receiving the supports they need to have equal opportunity to graduate and attend college as their native English-speaking peers?
17) How available are you to your students outside of class time (for tutoring, conferencing, guided practice, etc.)?
18) How do you engage parents and community organizations to ensure that students have appropriate academic and social support?