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This content is taken from the National STEM Learning Centre's online course, Differentiation for Learning. Join the course to learn more.

Skip to 0 minutes and 7 seconds One of the key elements in a differentiated classroom is the relationship between the teacher and students. Differentiation presents challenges for students, and so they need a safe learning environment in which they feel OK about revealing their ideas and where making mistakes and learning from them is accepted. [CHILDREN TALKING] Ooh, I agree with all of these except one. There is one here that you said is true, that’s not true. [CHILDREN TALKING] Can you check it? Right. How do you know, Sophie? How do you know that that one’s false? So creating a learning culture where students are keen to have a go at more challenging activities, rather than opting for the easier option, is important.

The importance of relationships

Chris discusses the importance of the relationship between the teacher and the students in establishing a classroom culture where all are motivated to learn.

In week 1, we introduced three key principles of differentiation for learning:

  1. Everyone can develop knowledge, understanding and skills.
  2. All students need to be challenged in their thinking in order to learn.
  3. All learners in the classroom need to be motivated to learn.

This week you are going to explore some ideas around the importance of the relationship between the teacher and the students in establishing an environment where everyone believes they are able to achieve and succeed in their learning.

We will introduce teaching strategies which give students a choice of activities linked to progressive learning intentions, with students identifying their appropriate starting points. However, strategies like these involve developing a learning culture in the classroom where students are motivated to choose more challenging activities that they will learn more from, rather than choosing for the easier option; and students understanding that failure - ‘getting things wrong’ - is a normal and necessary part of learning, and of scientific practice. We will also explore some practical ideas for helping students to become self-directed learners.


We have all come across students who seem to give up easily, or not try in the first place - those students who’s doubt in their ability to learn has a negative effect on their not only on their progress, but also their experience of school.

What ways have you found that are effective in developing students resilience, and self-belief?

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This video is from the free online course:

Differentiation for Learning

National STEM Learning Centre