Teaching Strategies for Diverse Students

Through the use of my knowledge of students’ diverse backgrounds, I have implemented teaching strategies that are responsive to the learning strengths and needs of students from diverse linguistic, cultural, religious and socioeconomic backgrounds. I have altered my teaching and lesson plans to suit students on an individual needs basis where possible, in order to enhance their learning.

An example of the above can be taken from a year 9 mentor class I taught for a period of 10 weeks. The 5 indigenous male students involved with the mentor class had behavioural issues in a certain learning area and it was decided that they may benefit from individual instruction and a more relaxed, but firm teaching style.  Some of these students had issues with language, literacy and numeracy and were from a low socioeconomic area. In order to achieve progress with this group of young boys, I had to implement teaching strategies that were responsive to their learning needs. I asked advice from experienced colleagues who gave me several ideas of how to address these issues and the best methods they have tried and had success with.

My main goal was to develop a strong student-teacher relationship with each student, which in my opinion is one of the best methods to ensure students respect and work for you. This would help to motivate, connect and “get through” to these boys to hopefully make a difference and change their somewhat negative attitude towards school. Firstly I made the lessons informal by making the class a group discussion or a place where the boys could speak about anything and everything. There were still rules and guidelines that were followed. E.g. No hats inside, no headphones and ‘minimal’ swearing. They could sit where they chose, could speak when they wanted, and had a say it what would be covered in each lesson (up to a point). In order to get the best out of each individual I needed to understand what was going on in their world and in their heads. Their likes, dislikes, goals, role models and most importantly what motivates them.

I designed an ‘About you’ questionnaire in order to gather this information during the first lesson of the program. I found that giving them the independence and autonomy to choose and have an input in their own learning had a positive effect and increased engagement. In addition, the relaxed environment and verbal based activities helped with understanding and developing their language, literacy and numeracy skills.

Mentor – Year 9 ‘About You’ Activity

I introduced a goal based competition where the boys would attempt as many push ups as possible for the first lesson and try to beat their score every lesson thereafter. This simple exercise introduced goal setting in a fun, competitive and achievable manner, which the boys looked forward to every week. I would use this as a reward for finishing all set work during the lesson. On a more serious note in relation to goal setting, I had the boys write down three short term goals and three long term goals on a piece of paper and placed them all in an envelope to look at later in the year. Some of the boys achieved their goals, some did not.

I also considered the ‘bigger picture’, focusing a number of the lessons on the skills needed to find employment. We discussed relevant documents, including cover letters and resumes and I gave the boys the opportunity to create their own. In conjunction with this I explained the importance of achieving the best grade possible at school in order to improve their chances of getting a job in the future. We made certain agreements using a reward system based on attendance and behaviour at school. If the boys obeyed all requirements then they would be rewarded at the end of the term. This gave the boys motivation to achieve and attempt to follow the rules, even though this proved difficult for some of them. I created a comical/fun contractual agreement which I made all the boys agree to and sign.

Mentor Agreement

Although teaching this group of boys was challenging at times, I enjoyed it. Some would label this group of boys as ‘trouble makers’ or something similar, but once you break down the tough exterior and begin to understand what is going on in their heads, it’s clear to see that all they want is to succeed at something and should always be given a second chance.

This article relates to the following Professional standards: 




Effective Communication and Student Management

Communication – “The imparting or exchanging of information by speaking, writing, or using some other medium.”


The single most important tool in a teacher’s repertoire. Effective communication equals a greater understanding and therefore increased student learning, which can be applied to all learning areas. Communication is not just about verbally explaining procedures, rules and information to students, it is about a teacher’s whole demeanour and interaction with their classes.

I use effective verbal and non-verbal communication strategies to support student understanding, participation, engagement and achievement.

Examples of non-verbal communication I use during my classes include:

  • Silence
  • positive gestures, posture and positioning
  • appropriate facial expression and eye contact
  • proximity and physical setting

I have found that non-verbal communication can play a very important role in behaviour management and student/teacher relationships. With the intention of always remaining positive and creating a happy demeanour including positive gestures and facial expressions, I have found that students respond more favourably in all situations, even when being disciplined.

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Literacy and Numeracy Integration in Health and Physical Education

In the Australian Curriculum, the general capabilities encompass the knowledge, skills, behaviours and dispositions that will assist students to live and work successfully in the twenty-first century.

There are seven general capabilities:

  • Literacy
  • Numeracy
  • Information and communication technology capability
  • Critical and creative thinking
  • Personal and social capability
  • Ethical understanding
  • Intercultural understanding

I have touched on many of these general capabilities throughout this website, however I haven’t focused specifically on that of literacy and numeracy integration into physical education and health education from years seven to 10, as well as Physical Education studies and Health studies.

I completely agree that literacy and numeracy are two general capabilities that are critical to the success of students in the future for work aspirations and basic life skills, however I do not believe that they should take preference over educating students about the importance of health and physical activity during the time periods allotted for the latter. I believe a health and physical education teacher should use as many methods and teaching strategies as possible to integrate literacy and numeracy where possible into their teaching and learning programs, but not to the detriment of health and physical education and physical activity.

Literacy in health and physical education

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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education

“We acknowledge the traditional and original owners of this continent and pay respect to today’s Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait communities who are its custodians – including in particular their past, present and future Elders”

Every Australian has a duty to appreciate and understand the origins of their country and the original inhabitants of this land. In conjunction with the history of this supposed ‘Terra nullius’ (Australia), unfortunately arises the concept of reconciliation, due to the poor treatment of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) people in the past. In order for reconciliation to be successful, education and understanding is required for all Australians. Through a variety of mediums, education and understanding can be achieved. This education starts at the school level. In order for a teacher to be able to design and implement effective teaching strategies and provide opportunities for students to develop in relation to ATSI people, they must first understand the history and culture themselves. We need to gain a respectful understanding and knowledge of Indigenous cultures, histories and modern contexts whilst working in partnership with Indigenous communities.

Aboriginal Australia Picture

In order for a teacher to understand the modern life of Indigenous Australians, an understanding of the historical and cultural background of ATSI people is essential. ATSI people have one of the richest and oldest continuing cultures in the world, with estimates that they have inhabited what is now known as Australia for up to 60,000 years before European settlement. They lived with a strong dependence to the land and water and developed location specific skills such as hunting, fishing and gathering. Their way of life was changed dramatically after they were forced to submit to European rule. An understanding of ATSI history can be developed through the mediums below.

Share Our Pride Website

The Social, Cultural and Historical Context of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians (PDF)

History of Indigenous Australians

The history of ATSI people has demonstrated that there has been a varying degree of disrespect shown towards them since European incursion, up until recent times. In the past, racism and control have belittled ATSI people and in some circumstances taken away their rights. Today, positive steps are being implemented to promote reconciliation.

Reconciliation – “The ending of conflict or renewing of a friendly relationship between disputing people or groups”

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Learning Theories in Education

Several theories of learning have been developed over time, however the three prominent learning theories in relation to education are behaviourism, cognitivism and constructivism, with connectivism being developed most recently due to the increase in the use of technology in education.

The Four Theories:

Cognitivism is the study of the mind and how it obtains, processes, and stores information. Cognitive views on learning are associated with an information processing model which consists of several parts namely, sensory memory, working memory and long term memory, where the last two terms are part of metacognition or “the act of thinking about thinking” or “knowing about knowing”.

I believe the best quote I found in relation to metacognition is “referring to conscious behaviour in which learners plan, monitor, evaluate and revise their progress in the course of the learning process.”

Based on the literature metacognition is the awareness individuals have of their own mental processes and the subsequent ability to monitor, regulate, and direct themselves to a desired end. For example students demonstrate metacognition if they can articulate what strategies they used to read and understand a text.

A number of teachers use the cognitive view of learning to begin lessons as elaborate rehearsal allows for information to be stored and encoded in the long term memory with constant stimuli from the environment when a person is attentive and perceptive. Attention and perception are heightened when a person is motivated which in turn allows for an increase in learning.

The following graph clearly demonstrates what effect revision can have on the long term memory and how much potential the brain has to store information and recall information when necessary. The brain does however lose information if the information is not continually rehearsed and encoded into the long term memory.

Cognitive Revision Graph

In order to stop the brain “pruning” out information it deems is not useful it is important to make learning rewarding, enjoyable, and motivating in order for students to develop new skills and learn new information. Cognitivism is particularly relevant to the physical education setting as practicing certain skills and techniques over a period of time allows students to develop movements and eventually link them together, in order to perform the skill without thinking about it.

A simple video explanation of cognitivism:

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