Differentiated Instruction: Making Sure We Get it Right!
A defining moment for me during the workshop was a discussion about the mindset of differentiation. Dr. Tomlinson shared that without a believe that it is possible for students to do better than they ever had before, without hope or anticipation of what could happen in the classroom for kids.... there is no foundation for differentiating instruction. In other words, optimism is the energy that propels differentiation. Without optimism there is no purpose or fuel for differentiation to grow.
Does our school demonstrate a "do whatever it takes attitude?"
Do student strengths dominate the conversation?
Do we make efforts to genuinely affirm student efforts?
Do we expect the best?Does the conversation revolve around reasons students can't do high level work or ways we could support and scaffold students to high level work?
The conviction that students can and should do high level work is the heart of differentiation. We may not be able to simply tell educators to believe in students who failed in the past and somehow that will make it all better. However, we can acknowledge the bias and behave our way into belief.
To quote Dr. Tomlinson, "Differentiation is not a thing you do, it's the way you think."