Presentation on theme: "LOSING SIGHT OF THE SHORE"— Presentation transcript:
1LOSING SIGHT OF THE SHORE DIFFERENTIATING CURRICULUM AND INSTRUCTIONHeartland Curriculum NetworkMary SchmidtSchool Improvement ConsultantHeartland AEA 11
2WHAT ARE YOU? Enthusiast? Explorer? Sightseer? Vacationer? Prisoner? As you reflect on your attitude about being here, which of the following are you?The enthusiast approaches every day as an adventure and is excited by the prospect of new opportunities to learn and grow professionally.The explorer is willing to go into uncharted territory; the excitement lies in confronting the unknown. The explorer is looking for a payback for his/her effort and trouble.The sightseer is invigorated by a little of this and a little of that. The more variety the better because he/she isn’t willing to spend to much time in any one locale but is interested in learning a little about each landmark he/she encounters.The vacationer seeks to get away from it all! There are no expectations on this trip, nor is there any serious intellectual investment. Whether physical or mental, a vacation is the time to rest and relax.And the prisoner…? Well, we all know what that entails. Throughout this discussion, I challenge each of you to raise your position on the ladder and come to a deeper understanding of the rationale and theory behind differentiation and the need for changing your thinking about teaching and learning to embrace differentiation as everyday classroom practice.
3SHARING MY PASSIONI began thinking about differentiation--of course I didn’t call it that--back in the late 1980s when I realized that the highest achieving children in my 9th grade English classes weren’t getting A’s because I was such a wonderful teacher. In fact, it had very little to do with me. They weren’t challenged, and they were earning top grades while not working very hard. My answer then was to lobby the administration to group all those brightest kids together for English and to change the curriculum so it met their learning needs. At least it was a start!In the early 1990s when I began a new job as facilitator of middle school and high school gifted and talented programming, differentiation took on a new meaning. I was able to collaborate with classroom teachers to address gifted kids’ learning needs through modification of regular curriculum. My understanding of differentiation broadened, and I realized that it really does require a shift in one’s perspective. I had to become more creative, learn to be a better questioner, and develop a deaf ear to the word “no.” Above all, I had to really know my students--their needs, their interests, and their abilities. I had to reinvent my role as “teacher.”
4GYou cannot discover new oceans unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.You cannot discover new oceansunless you have the courageto lose sight of the shore.A differentiated school or classroom necessitates leaving one’s comfort zone and striking out courageously to find those new oceans. A wise man once said, “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always gotten.”Are you satisfied with the level of learning in your school and your classroom? Is each student in your building or classroom working to his/her potential without encountering a level of frustration that impedes learning? Or does something need to change?It is incumbent on each of use to remember that it is not just our duty to educate every child; it is our duty to educate EACH child.
5IMPORTANT QUESTIONS What is differentiation? Why is it important? How is it accomplished?Where does collaboration fit in?How does one assess the success of efforts to differentiate?What are the recommendations for instructional leaders in schools ready to differentiate?These are the questions that frame our discussion of differentiation. The rationale, theory and research assist with answers and guide us to implementation.
6GUIDING ASSUMPTIONSA “teach to the middle” or “one size fits all” classroom is less responsive to and less effective in meeting the needs of the diverse populations in our classrooms than a classroom which offers various learning opportunities designed to meet different learning needs.A differentiated classroom offers different approaches to what students learn, how they learn it, and how they demonstrate what they’ve learned.There are 4 basic assumptions forming the foundation for differentiation. These were identified by Carol Ann Tomlinson from the University of Virginia at Williamsburg, a leading expert on differentiation. Her research and experience have guided the work of educators everywhere, and her numerous publications are the handbooks for classroom practice in differentiation.
7GUIDING ASSUMPTIONSFlexible grouping enables teachers to match student with learning experience.Developing a differentiated classroom takes time, support, and commitment.
9DIFFERENTIATION ala... WEBSTER “…to make unlike; to develop specialized differences in…”TOMLINSON“…shaking up what goes on in the classroom so that the curriculum is a better fit for all.”When I began serious study of differentiation during work on my MA in Gifted Education, I began with the simplest definition I could find--that according to Mr. Webster. This is pretty generic and applies to many situations and contexts.Carol Ann Tomlinson narrows it with a straightforward, simple-to-understand definition that educators everywhere can relate to.
10DIFFERENTIATION ala... WINEBRENNER “...giving kids stuff their age peers can’t handle and wouldn’t want to.”PASSOW“SHOULD all kids do it?COULD all kids do it?WOULD all kids want to?”If the answer to any of these questions is “yes” then it isn’t differentiated.Susan Winbrenner’s definition reminds us that a comparison of the student’s ability and interest to that of age peers is an important consideration.The late Harry Passow invites us to ask three questions and consider the answers. No’s to all three would indicate that the activity or lesson is differentiated. Think about something you teach or have kids do. How would you answer these three questions? Turn to someone near you and share your insights.
11DIFFERENTIATION ala... MAKER “…Quality changes rather than quantity, and they must build upon and extend the characteristics (both present and future) that make the children different from other students.”C. June Maker emphasizes the need for recognizing what it is that makes students different from one another and building on those differences to enhance student strengths and optimize their learning.
12DIFFERENTIATION ala... BORLAND “…a course of study that is in some manner different from the one to which students in the mainstream are exposed…Differentiation is not enough. To be appropriate, a curriculum for…students must be defensible as well…Defensibility in this context implies that the curriculum is not only different from the norm, but educationally right for…students.”James Borland, Teachers College at Columbia University, introduces the concept of defensibility and reminds us that the curriculum we provide for students must be educationally right for them. His special education/gifted education perspective separates those populations from the mainstream and applies the practice to delivery of their curriculum and instruction.
13DIFFERENTIATION INVOLVES... creating specialized differences in curricular experiencescreating multiple options for knowledge acquisition, sense-making, and product creationproviding different work, not more of the samebuilding on the characteristics which create differencesproviding what is educationally right for learnersA summary of the previous definitions provides these main points.
14WHY DIFFERENTIATE?Now we have a pretty good idea what it is, but it sure sounds like a lot of work! So why would anybody In his/her right mind do this?
15IT’S THE LAW!12.5(12)Provisions for gifted and talented students. Each school district shall incorporate gifted and talented programming into its comprehensive school improvement plan as required by Iowa Code section The comprehensive school improvement plan shall include the following gifted and talented program provisions:valid and systematic procedures, including multiple selection criteria for identifying gifted and talented students from the total student populationgoals and performance measuresa qualitatively differentiated program to meet the students’ cognitive and affective needsstaffing provisionsan in-service designa budgetqualifications of personnel administering the program.Each school district shall review and evaluate its gifted and talented programming. This subrule does not apply to accredited nonpublic schools.This is what Iowa law (the section dealing with general accreditation standards) says. The underlining is mine, added to emphasize that the law dictates differentiation.
16REDUCE RISK OF UNDERACHIEVEMENT “Smart children soon learn that what is important in school is one thing--and what is important in life is another, and they live in this schizophrenic existence satisfactorily. Many, however, do not. Everything we learn doesn't have to be relevant. But if some of our school learning isn’t meaningful, we may get turned off enough so that we don’t want to learn anything anywhere. We may simply drop out.”William GlasserSchools Without FailureGifted children are highly at risk for underachievement and dropping out of school; and in one study done in New York state in the early 1980s, it was determined that nearly 20% of high school dropouts would have qualified for gifted and talented programs.
17ALLEVIATE DISCIPLINE PROBLEMS DISCIPLINE PROBLEMS REFLECT A COLLISION WITH INAPPROPRIATE CURRICULUM.--Susan WinebrennerYou’ve all experienced those bright students whose behavior gets “creative” when they find classroom activity boring or the struggling student who acts out in an attempt to mask what he/she doesn’t know. This may not be the only answer to discipline problems, but it explains a lot.
18INCREASE MOTIVATIONTWO MOTIVATIONAL STATES INTERFERE WITH LEARNING. ONE IS ANXIETY; THE OTHER IS BOREDOM. ANXIETY OCCURS WHEN TEACHERS EXPECT TOO MUCH, BOREDOM WHEN THEY EXPECT TOO LITTLE.Mihaly CsikezentmihalyiFlow: the Psychology of Optimal ExperienceThink about the signs you would see in your students if they’re experiencing anxiety over the content, tasks, assessments, etc. you are requiring of them. Jot down a few of those signs.Now do the same for boredom.Turn to someone near you and share your perceptions.We must strike a balance and meet students at their instructional level. Piaget’s model refers to the acquisition of new information which puts the learner in state of disequilibrium. Being able to assimilate that information into their existing schemata results in a state of equilibrium which is maintained until more new information is taken in, and the cycle begins anew. The challenge is to allow students the appropriate amount of time in the equilibrium state without keeping them there too long (boredom) or moving to more new information before they are comfortable with where the previously acquired information “fits” (anxiety).
19ADDRESS LEARNER READINESS WHEN WE TEACH THE SAME THING TO ALL KIDS AT THE SAME TIME,1/3 ALREADY KNOW IT,1/3 GET IT, AND1/3 NEVER WILL.SO 2/3 OF THE KIDS ARE WASTING THEIR TIME.--Scott WillisThese are startling numbers and help put teachers’ efforts into perspective.
20BUILD SELF ESTEEMTHE SUREST PATH TO POSITIVE SELF ESTEEM IS TO SUCCEED AT SOMETHING WHICH ONE PERCEIVED WOULD BE DIFFICULT. EACH TIME WE STEAL A STUDENT’S STRUGGLE, WE STEAL THE OPPORTUNITY FOR THEM TO BUILD SELF-CONFIDENCE. THEY MUST LEARN TO DO HARD THINGS TO FEEL GOOD ABOUT THEMSELVES.--Sylvia RimmThink about a situation from which you emerged feeling empowered and good about yourself. Were you required to work hard? Were you unsure of the outcome--maybe you’d be successful; maybe you wouldn’t? Did you struggle?When we give children the simplest of tasks to ensure “success,” they know our praise for high achievement as a result of minimal effort is hollow. When children learn the relationship between effort and outcome and can face failure with the knowledge they have the power to change the situation, true self-efficacy is theirs.
21NORMAL IS ONLY A SETTING ON THE WASHING MACHINE Look around any classroom in any building in any school district in this country and you will see the truth in this!
22THAT STUDENTS DIFFER MAY BE INCONVENIENT, BUT IT IS INESCAPABLE THAT STUDENTS DIFFER MAY BE INCONVENIENT, BUT IT IS INESCAPABLE. ADAPTING TO THAT DIVERSITY IS THE INEVITABLE PRICE OF PRODUCTIVITY, HIGH STANDARDS, AND FAIRNESS TO THE STUDENTS Theodore SizerIf we seek to truly improve schools and help the students in them become independent, life-long learners, we must embrace the diversity in our classrooms and suffer the inconvenience of meeting individual needs through well-planned and thoughtfully implemented differentiation practices in our classrooms.
23WAYS IN WHICH INDIVIDUALS CAN DIFFER Prior knowledge or skill expertiseLearning rateCognitive abilityLearning style preferenceMotivation, attitude, and effortInterest, strength, or talentPrior to showing the list, have participants brainstorm their own and then share.The children in our classrooms are individuals each with different abilities, interests, learning profiles and needs. To treat them as “cookie cutter people” amounts to educational malpractice.
24THE GRADE LEVEL CURRICULUM: exposes all students to the same skills and contentsets predetermined completion timesstresses a single activityexpects all students to achieve all objectivesprovides most instruction in large groupsWhen we think about curriculum in our schools, we tend to think in terms of “grade level.” This establishes the norm for what students should know and be able to do. While this standard is laudable, it is important to remember there are pitfalls associated with never deviating from this core.In “The Easy Lie and the Role of Gifted Education in School Excellence,” (1995) Carol Tomlinson says, “In the name of efficiency curriculum writers and teachers develop one curriculum per grade level, one lesson plan per class, and define success by one measure. As long as this happens and high ability kids don’t struggle, excellence won’t be possible.”bases instruction on the average studentuses limited single resourcesprovides few student decision making opportunities
25WHAT CAN BE DIFFERENTIATED? If good practice dictates differentiation, what does a teacher change?
26CONTENT--What students learn PROCESS--How they learn it PRODUCT--How students show what they’ve learnedLEARNING ENVIRONMENT--The conditions under which learning takes shapeContent, process, and product are the three most common areas for differentiation. We might equate content with curriculum, process with instruction, and product with assessment. The alignment of these three elements is critical to sound educational practice and improved student learning.The learning environment is created by the alignment of content, process, and product as well as by the teacher who establishes a nurturing, caring environment. This combination creates the fertile ground on which students’ love of learning takes shape and grows into a life-long endeavor.
27DIFFERENTIATING CONTENT INCLUDES: Modification of the rate of learning includingThe point at which learners are allowed to begin studyThe rate at which they are allowed to learnThe point at which they leave an area of studyOpportunities for student-selected areas of study within and across disciplines.The modification of the complexity in the area of study.A multidisciplinary approach to learning.High ability learners already know much of the grade-level material in a given area of study; struggling learners may never reach the “norm.” Teachers, however, must approach each day with the firm belief that all students deserve to be challenged at appropriately and that all can learn at high levels.
28DIFFERENTIATING PROCESS INCLUDES: Learning and using higher order thinking skillscreative thinkingcritical thinkingproblem solvingApplication of abstract thinking skills to student-appropriate content resulting in products at a level of sophistication appropriate for the studentIntegration of basic skills and abstract thinking skillsAccording to Carol Tomlinson, process involves the ways learners make sense of the content. As we provide the sense-making opportunities for students--and encourage them to develop their own--it is imperative that each child be give respectful tasks which provide a means to build self-esteem and self-efficacy.
29DIFFERENTIATING PRODUCT INCLUDES: Learning and using multiple forms for communicating learningThe opportunity to present information to diverse and appropriate audiencesThe opportunity for learners to participate in the assessment of learning activities and the resulting product formsChildren must be given the opportunity and be challenge to expand their repertoire of product options. Through this “push” they will move to higher levels of thinking as they select product options best suited to communicate a particular concept of type of learning to the selected audience.As students participate in assessing their learning, they learn to develop criteria and identify quality, apply those standards to their own work, and engage in the metacognition necessary for high-level, enduring learning.
30DIFFERENTIATING LEARNING ENVIRONMENT INCLUDES: Groupings which are fluid and flexible and approximate real-life situationsAccess to various materials and resourcesAn atmosphere which encourages expression of new ideas, acceptance of diversity, and explorationExperiences reflecting learner interests and ideasHonoring the dignity of all learnersCreating a learning environment that fosters differentiation requires teachers to re-think their beliefs and practices. They will need to examine long-held assumptions about what an effective classroom “looks like” and adjust the mental models that have guided their practice over time.
31IN DIFFERENTIATED CLASSROOMS, TEACHERS... begin where students are, not at the front of the curriculum guide.build upon the premise that learners differ in important ways.engage students through different learning modalities, by appealing to different interests, and by using varying rates of instruction and degrees of complexity.ensures that students focus more on individual growth than on competition with other students.recognize that each student’s roadmap to learning differs from that of others.believe that students should be held to high standards.These thoughts from Carol Tomlinson challenge some of those commonly-held assumptions. As you read each, think about whether you agree or disagree and whether the statement is a) part of your current practice, b) something you have thought about, or c) something you are not willing to do.
32IN DIFFERENTIATED CLASSROOMS, TEACHERS... ensure that struggling, advanced, and in-between learners think and work harder than they meant to; achieve more than they thought they could; and come to believe that learning involves effort, risk, and personal triumph.help students learn that success is achieved through hard work.use time flexibly.employ a range of instructional strategies.become partners in learning with their students.accept, embrace, and plan for the commonalities and differences learners bring to their classrooms.
33INDICATORS OF DIFFERENTIATION Consistent use of pretestingA decrease in the frequency of large group activitiesAn increase in:Small group teaching activitiesFlexible small group learning activitiesAn increase in individual alternatives:CentersHomeworkContractsAs teachers examine their practice with regard to a specific strategy or concept, they often realize they’re already doing much of what is recommended. Think about your teaching. Do you have in place any of these structures indicating differentiation?
34THE DIFFERENTIATION PROCESS ObjectiveIntroductionInitial instructionPretestingDiagnosisBreadthDepthAs this graphic illustrates, differentiation requires a different type of classroom management.The top box identifies the basic steps teachers will follow. By engaging in this process, teachers will allow students to experience greater depth and or breadth in their study. Expanded breadth is achieved primarily through alternative activities which allow students to learn a broader range of content, often skipping what they already know, while depth is achieved through tiered assignments which are parallel tasks at varied levels of difficulty. The challenge for teachers is the management of the flexible small groups--a real change in the way of doing business for many teachers, especially those at secondary.Branching OutManaging Flexible Small GroupsAlternative ActivitiesAdjusting the BreadthTiered AssignmentsAltering the Depth
35OFFERING ALTERNATIVE ACTIVITIES To Increase the Breadth of a Lesson Choice of ResourcesMISSION CONTROL (The Teacher)PROVIDES:Whole Group Introduction and Instruction and Launches Satellites (small groups) on Alternative ActivitiesProduct OptionsVarying GoalsAlternative ActivitiesIf we make an analogy to space exploration, differentiation looks like this.
36TIERED ACTIVITIES To Alter the Depth of a Lesson INCREASE/DECREASE:KEY FEATURES:AbstractionWhole Group IntroductionExtent of SupportWhole Group Initial InstructionSophisticationIdentification of Developmental DifferencesComplexityofGoals/Resources/Activities/ProductsTiered activities look like this. In this case the teacher is essential offering parallel curriculum. An example for Tuck Everlasting is on the next slide.
37There might be some students in a classroom for whom the left side of the sheet is an appropriate challenge. For others it would represent little challenge, so those students would complete the list of 10 things that are everlasting on the right side of the sheet instead. A third group, the students working at the highest level of cognitive complexity, would complete the entire right side of the page and go on to place those 10 things on a continuum from least everlasting to most everlasting with a justification for the ranking.
38DIFFERENTIATION AS A COLLABORATIVE EFFORT Can one teacher strike out into the unknown and differentiate solo? Of course! But as we know, all of educational practice is richer when teachers break away from the I’ll-close-my-door-and-teach-so-just-leave-me-alone-and-let-me-do-my-thing mentality and become a community of learners who share their practice and their knowledge of students for the benefit of all.That is why collaboration is an essential component of sound differentiation practice.
39COLLABORATION IS...…THE DIRECT INTERACTION BETWEEN AT LEAST TWO EQUAL PARTIES WHO VOLUNTARILY ENGAGE IN SHARED DECISION-MAKING AS THEY WORK TOWARD A COMMON GOAL.We’ll be working from this definition. Turn to a partner and identify the key words in this definition. (Allow time for pair sharing and then discuss briefly in the large group.) What does this mean for teachers’ everyday practice? What changes will it necessitate in the way you do business?
40HOW DO GIFTED STUDENTS SPEND THEIR TIME? The gifted education specialist in your district or building is an important partner in differentiation. Identified children are gifted all day, not just for that small part of the day or week they are directly served by gifted programming. While the focus of differentiation in this discussion is for ALL children, it is important to remember the unmet learning needs of the highest achievers who, despite popular opinion, may NOT “make it on their own.” Many gifted children do not succeed because of us, they succeed in spite of us!(Starko, 1986)
41COLLABORATIVE DIFFERENTIATION REQUIRES... the input of teachers, parents, learners, mentors, gifted/special education specialists, counselors, administrators, and any other parties with an interest in the education of the individuala knowledge of the learner’s interests, learning styles, level of motivation, social-emotional needs, and cognitive abilitytime for collaboration to occurindividualization for the learner under considerationA variety of people are part of the collaboration necessary for differentiation. They must be viewed as “critical friends” and essential to the success of improving student learning.Tomlinson identifies three bases for differentiation--student interest, student readiness, and student learning profile. Getting to know students is a key to the success of differentiation.As we all know, time is the greatest impediment to collaboration. If teachers don’t have a common planning time, they need to get really creative to carve out those few precious moments to work together. Go for it! Get creative! It’s worth it!Remember that we can differentiate for a group of students, but it still may be necessary to individualize for a particular learner.
42construction of the IEP/PEP designed for the learner careful selection of the appropriate programming option or strategy tailored to meet the identified needs of the learnerconstruction of the IEP/PEP designed for the learnermonitoring of learner needs, progress, and goal attainmentregular communication among all parties with an interest in the learner’s progressThis is one component of individualization. Each teacher should have a repertoire of options and strategies built over time. According to Carol O’Connor, an expert in differentiation, it takes at least three years for teachers to build the skills to differentiate well.In the truly differentiated classroom, each learner would have a personalized/individualized education plan.Without careful monitoring of student progress toward the PEP goals set for him/her, we won’t know if the differentiation plan is making a difference in that student’s achievement. On-going assessment is a critical component of differentiated classrooms.The importance of communication is a given to create the collaborative environment essential to success.
43INSTRUCTIONAL QUESTIONS FOR COLLABORATIVE DECISION MAKING What skills/concepts/behaviors/strategies does the learner currently have?What skills/concepts/behaviors/strategies does the learner need to learn?How does the learner learn best?How will all parties know when the learner is progressing?The stakeholders in a child’s educational well-being must address these questions throughout the process. Notice that these questions match the areas which can be differentiated--content, process, and product.
44WHEN ALL THOSE WITH AN INTEREST IN MEETING THE COGNITIVE, CONATIVE, SOCIAL, AND EMOTIONAL NEEDS OF STUDENTSA. WORK AS A TEAMB. PURSUE A COMMON GOALC. DISPLAY MUTUAL RESPECTD. SHARE RESPONSIBILITY ANDACCOUNTABILITYE. SUBLIMATE THEIR OWN INTERESTSThis slide doesn’t need much explanation! Remember that differentiation is way of thinking about teaching and learning and then consider how these conditions might require teachers to adjust their mental models to that end.THEN…
45STUDENTS WILL FLOURISH AS THEIR NEEDS ARE MET THROUGH A COLLABORATIVELY DIFFERENTIATED CURRICULUM. This is the goal!
46HOW DO I KNOW IT’S WORKING? LISTEN TO AND OBSERVE THE KIDSMONITOR AND MEASURE ATTAINMENT OF GOALSDEVELOP BEHAVIORIAL CHECKLISTSYOU SEE MOTIVATED, ENGAGED, SELF-DIRECTED LEARNERS ABLE TO FUNCTION AND THRIVE WITHIN AN ENVIRONMENT WHICH CHALLENGES THEM.In this age of accountability, this is the burning question. We know that data are critical to our roles as educators, so it behooves us to remember that data take many forms and may be gathered through many filters. Be sure to match the data sources and types carefully to the question to be answered.
47WHERE DO WE BEGIN? THE POLICY LEVEL DEVELOP BOARD, DISTRICT, AND SCHOOL GOALS CENTERED ON MAXIMIZING EACH STUDENT’S LEARNING CAPACITY.DEVELOP STEADY AND CONSISTENT LONG-TERM GOALS FOR FUNDING, STAFF DEVELOPMENT, HIRING, TEACHER AND ADMINISTRATOR ASSESSMENT, AND POLICY MAKING.STUDY AND PLAN FOR THE VARIOUS STAGES OF THE CHANGE PROCESS IN REGARD TO DIFFERENTIATION.Certainly, one teacher may differentiate in his/her classroom; but for the highest degree of implementation and success, a systemic approach is most effective. It is critical to put policies into place ensuring the philosophical foundation for differentiation that will transcend administrative and staff turnover.These are some policy suggestions.
48WHERE DO WE BEGIN? THE BUILDING LEVEL BEGIN SMALL. TRY A FEW PILOT TEACHERS AND CLASSROOMS.BEGIN WITH TEACHERS WHO HAVE THE SKILL AND WILL TO CHANGE.CREATE TEAMS OF TEACHERS. COLLEGIALTIY, NOT ISOLATION, NOURISHES NEW IDEAS.GO FOR ACTION AND APPLICATION.ADJUST SCHOOL SCHEDULES TO PROVIDE TEACHERS LARGER BLOCKS OF UNINTERRUPTED TIME.Working from the policy level, buildings can then put structures in place for differentiation to “grow.”
49WHERE DO WE BEGIN? THE BUILDING LEVEL CONSIDER ADOPTING MULTIPLE TEXTS INSTEAD OF ONE FOR A GIVEN SUBJECT AND GRADE LEVEL.CONSIDER MODIFIED REPORT CARDS TO PROVIDE A LOOK AT PERSONAL GROWTH INSTEAD OF, OR IN ADDITION TO, GROUP COMPARISONS.CONSIDER NARROWING THE RANGE OF LEARNERS IN SOME CLASSROOMS.DEVELOP COTEACHING AND COLLABORATIVE RELATIONSHIPS.
50EFFECTIVE LEADERS WILL... make time for teachers to plan differentiated lessons.provide opportunities to visit differentiated classrooms.give access to a wide range of learner materials.create an environment where teachers feel safe trying a new approach w/o fear of judgement.give meaningful, targeted feedback about teachers’ work with differentiation.provide support networks.Without administrative support, differentiation won’t work. These are suggestions from Allen and Tomlinson’s book Leadership for Differentiating School and Classrooms.
51YOU’VE EITHER GOT TO SEE THE LIGHT OR FEEL THE HEAT. Carol Tomlinson has said, “You’ve either got to see the light or feel the heat.” Sometimes feeling the heat isn’t enough to bring about change in long-held beliefs and practices. A willingness to examine our mental models and “see the light” is a necessary component.Research on professional development points to the need for both pressure and support. Practitioners must feel confident they have a safe environment in which to experiment with differentiation and that the support mechanisms are in place to create their safety net as they hone their skill. Just as we would hesitate to grade students on skills or content they are just learning, so we must be cautious about evaluating teachers on the effective implementation of a practice in which they are novices.
52REMEMBER THAT NOTHING THAT’S GOOD WORKS BY ITSELF JUST TO PLEASE YOU REMEMBER THAT NOTHING THAT’S GOOD WORKS BY ITSELF JUST TO PLEASE YOU. YOU’VE GOT TO MAKE THE DAMN THING WORK. --Thomas EdisonA differentiated classroom will not fall into your lap because you will it to be so. It will take lots of hard work, trying new strategies, failing, and picking yourself up to try again. But it is good practice. And it will please you--if not right away, at least over time.
53If you want to feel safe and secure, continue to do what you have always done. If you want to grow, go to the cutting edge of our profession. Just know that when you do, there will be a temporary loss of sanity. So know when you don’t quite know what you are doing You are probably growing! Madeline HunterMadeline Hunter reminds us that Piaget’s concept of disequilibrium--assimilation--equilibrium applies to teachers in their practice as well as to the students in those teachers’ classrooms.Professional growth is invigorating. Teachers as life-long learners serve as powerful models for their students and embody Ralph Waldo Emerson’s words, “What you do speaks so loudly I cannot hear what you say.”
54T.T.T. Put up in a place where it’s easy to see, The cryptic admonishment,T.T.T.When you feel how depressingly slow you climbIt’s well to remember thatTHINGS TAKE TIME.Will a differentiated classroom happen overnight? Of course not. In The Velveteen Rabbit the Skin Horse tells the Rabbit, “[Becoming Real] doesn’t happen all at once. You become. It takes a long time…Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out, and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”As you evolve in your practice, you will come to internalize Tomlinson’s statement that “Differentiation is not a pedagogical ‘bag of tricks.’ It is a way of thinking about teaching and learning.” It will take a long time to become “Real” in your differentiated practice. You’ll get tired and frustrated and may occasionally lose your way, but you will never be “ugly” to the colleagues who join and support you on the journey. They understand.