There are many ways to do that, such as lesson modification and adaptation, tiering, differentiated instruction, motivation, holistic teaching, teaching to various learning styles, and much more.
Lesson modification, or adaptation, is often used for one or two students in a class. Teachers realize that even though they try to plan a lesson for all their students, sometimes it just won't work for one or two students. That is when they have to change the lesson just a bit. Maybe instead of reading a book, the lesson will be modified to watch a movie on the same subject. I found a wonderful list of ways to adapt lessons for various types of learners on the Reading Rockets site at http://www.readingrockets.org/article/370/. You may want to check it out if you have a struggling student.
Tiering is different. Often times it will be the same basic assignment, but at different levels. For example, all students may have to read a chapter in the social studies textbook. Yet, some will have it photocopied and will have to highlight the main points. Others might have to write a summary or an outline afterward. Still others may have to write a summary and also create study flashcards that may be used for partner studying in class at a later point. I found a book written by Sarah Armstrong that may be a great resource for this. Check it out at http://www.amazon.com/Practical-Tiering-Instruction-Differentiated-Classroom/dp/0545112664. Also you can find her website at http://www.leadingandlearningsolutions.com/index.php/blog.
Differentiated instruction is blanket term that refers to using any and all strategies to give each student what he or she needs. That could be lesson modification, tiering, teaching to several learning styles, etc.
Being able to motivate students is just as important as being able to teach the academics. I believe that all people have an innate desire to learn. However, sometimes that desire gets squelched. This is sometimes the case, even in very young students. They lose desire for one reason or another. A great teacher will do what he or she can to help get that motivation back. Engaging and meaningful lessons are key here. Rewards, praise, and treats don't hurt if given properly.
Holistic teaching is something that seems to be less practiced than it should be, I think. Great teachers realize that and use it! Holistic teaching, in a nutshell, is taking into consideration the whole person. Holistic teaching is realizing that teaching is not just relaying academic information. Holistic teaching is understanding that teachers wear many hats. It is understanding that if a child has a rotten home life, it will be more difficult to concentrate on learning. It entails understanding right and left brain functions and how the body works together for optimal learning capabilities. Here is a great place to start if you are interested in more information. Check it out at http://www.hent.org/intro3.htm.
Not all people learn the same. Some are visual learners, while some are audio learners. Others learn better by hands on activities. These people often "don't like book learning." These are just a few of the ways people learn. The theory, by Howard Gardner" that relates to this is "Multiple Intelligences." You can read more information at http://www.tecweb.org/styles/gardner.html.
This was just a quick overview of various things to consider while meeting individual student needs. I hope you found it informative and enjoyable! I strive to for both! I also strive to be that "great teacher" I have talked about in today's blog! In saying that... please let me know if there is any topic or idea that you would like me to discuss. I want to motivate you to read more, share the blog and site addresses, etc. I want to write engaging and meaningful blog entries. Thank you for stopping by!