Hallmarks of a Differentiated Classroom
- The first thing I look for are student-teacher connections. Is the teacher really paying attention to the students, does he/she seem to be studying the students to find out what they are thinking e.g. opinions, thoughts, feelings, perceptions etc.... All of the information "feeds into instruction" and drives lesson planning and motivation to differentiate.
- Another thing I look for is a sense of community in the classroom. Is there a sense of team in the classroom. Baseball is a good analogy. Different players, playing different positions, but all working toward a common goal. It's very important for students to understand and appreciate their differences and be willing to help one another succeed.
- The third thing I look for is the quality of curriculum being used. You have to differentiate something, but if what you differentiate is boring enough to choke a horse, you've just got different versions of boredom. If the curriculum goal is unclear or murky, then you just end up with multiple versions of fog. If all you are doing is teaching to the test --- like memorizing the telephone book, then you are not providing anything memorable or useful in learning. Teachers need to ask themselves about the quality of what they are teaching. If I really think my students are capable of learning, then I want to give them the most robust materials, not watered-down stuff (p.28).
Dr. Tomlinson's insights have the potential to be helpful to administrators as they give feedback and support to teachers working toward differentiation. Dr. Tomlinson goes on to talk about lesson planning, the differentiated school, high stakes testing. etc.... Click on the link below to go directly to the website and full article.