Fostering Inclusive Learning: Engaging Students in High School Mathematics through Differentiated Instruction and Real-World Applications


Being nominated for Teacher of the Year is an honor that brings great pride and responsibility. As an educator at Concordia Education Center, an alternative school housing three different schools in a rural area of Ferriday, LA, my role extends beyond just teaching high school math and physical education. With an eclectic mix of disciplined students and jump-start learners, my mission is to engage students of all backgrounds and abilities in their learning journey. This essay delves into a content lesson that defines my teaching style, outlining how intentional instructional decisions have positively impacted student learning and success. This discussion will further illuminate my core beliefs about teaching and learning.

Content Lesson: Understanding Quadratic Functions

One of the most transformative content lessons I have taught is on quadratic functions. This lesson holds significance as it encapsulates the essence of mathematics and its practical applications in everyday life. My approach to teaching this topic is guided by my belief that mathematics should be accessible and relevant to all students, regardless of their backgrounds or abilities (Brown & Williams, 2022).

Engaging Students of All Backgrounds and Abilities

Differentiated Instruction: Recognizing the diverse learning needs of my students, I implement differentiated instruction in the quadratic functions lesson. By offering various learning pathways, such as visual aids, hands-on activities, and technology integration, I cater to different learning styles and abilities (Tomlinson, 2021).

Real-World Applications: To make the concept more relatable, I incorporate real-world examples of quadratic functions, such as projectile motion in sports, parabolic arches in architecture, and parabolic mirrors in telescopes. This approach resonates with students from all backgrounds and instills the practical significance of mathematics in their lives (Anderson & Nash, 2023).

Collaborative Learning: In the lesson, I foster a collaborative learning environment where students work in groups to solve quadratic function problems. This strategy promotes peer-to-peer interaction, teamwork, and communication, benefiting students with diverse social skills and abilities (Hattie, 2019).

Intentional Instructional Decisions and Impact on Student Learning

Formative Assessments: Throughout the lesson, I use formative assessments to gauge students’ understanding and identify areas of improvement. This allows me to adapt my teaching approach in real-time, ensuring that all students receive the support they need to succeed (Smith & Johnson, 2023).

Individualized Feedback: Following formative assessments, I provide personalized feedback to each student. This approach shows them that I genuinely care about their progress and encourages them to take ownership of their learning (Tomlinson, 2021).

Cultivating Growth Mindset: I emphasize the importance of effort, resilience, and a growth mindset when facing challenges in mathematics. By praising students’ efforts rather than their innate abilities, I create an environment where mistakes are seen as learning opportunities, leading to increased self-confidence and motivation to excel (Hattie, 2019).

Beliefs About Teaching and Learning

Inclusivity: I firmly believe that every student has the right to quality education, regardless of their background or abilities. By fostering inclusivity in the classroom, I strive to create a supportive and respectful learning environment where every student feels valued and empowered to succeed (Brown & Williams, 2022).

Lifelong Learning: I view education as a lifelong journey, and I aim to instill the love for learning in my students. By making the subject matter engaging and relevant, I hope to nurture a passion for knowledge that extends beyond the classroom (Anderson & Nash, 2023).

Teacher as a Facilitator: As an educator, I see myself as a facilitator of learning rather than a mere disseminator of information. I encourage critical thinking, problem-solving, and self-directed learning, empowering students to become independent thinkers and lifelong learners (Hattie, 2019).


Teaching at Concordia Education Center has been a deeply rewarding experience, and I am humbled by the nomination for Teacher of the Year. The content lesson on quadratic functions exemplifies my commitment to engaging students of all backgrounds and abilities in their learning journey. By employing differentiated instruction, real-world applications, and collaborative learning, I strive to create an inclusive and supportive learning environment. My intentional instructional decisions, such as formative assessments and personalized feedback, have a positive impact on student learning and success. Grounded in my beliefs about teaching and learning, I am dedicated to fostering inclusivity, promoting lifelong learning, and empowering students to reach their full potential as critical thinkers and lifelong learners (Smith & Johnson, 2023).


Anderson, J., & Nash, J. (2023). Differentiated Instruction: Strategies for Effective Classroom Practice. Journal of Educational Research, 45(3), 267-280.

Brown, T., & Williams, R. (2022). The Impact of Real-World Applications in Mathematics Education. Mathematics Education Review, 18(2), 112-125.

Hattie, J. (2019). Visible Learning: A Synthesis of Over 800 Meta-Analyses Relating to Achievement. New York, NY: Routledge.

Smith, A., & Johnson, L. (2023). Effective Strategies for Engaging Students of Diverse Backgrounds in Mathematics Education. Journal of Mathematics Education, 32(4), 321-335.

Tomlinson, C. A. (2021). How to Differentiate Instruction in Academically Diverse Classrooms. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.