It doesn’t take multiple data points to figure out that there are a wide range of abilities in our classrooms. In fact, it only takes a few moments of instruction and engagement to realize that fact. We know they have different needs and our instruction must somehow meet all of those needs. This is why differentiation is key to success in our classrooms.
But what is differentiation? How are we supposed to meet the needs of such a diverse range of learners?
We can start by having conversations within our districts and schools about a common definition and understanding so that we are all on the same page with expectations. We can talk about what differentiation IS as well as what it IS NOT (like individualized lesson plans for all students!?!)
We can start with visualizing what it could look like and re-imagining our understandings. We could use this video by ESOL teacher and author Larry Ferlazzo to help us envision a common understanding and jump-start our conversations. I think this could ease a lot of stress teachers are experiencing when they think about trying to differentiate for all of their students.
So before you find your pulse quickening and blood pressure rising at the thought of differentiating for your students, give this video a view and have some collegial conversations. Differentiation isn’t a four letter word!