Need Some Differentiation Advice?
Have you ever wanted some differentiation advice from real, live teachers in real, live classrooms?
How can teachers who are comfortable with a differentiated classroom support and encourage teachers who are new to differentiation or struggling with differentiation?
I’ve got answers!
I recently had the wonderful opportunity to work with a fantastic group of teachers in Archbold, Ohio at the Northpoint Educational Service Center.
At the end of the day, we crowdsourced a response to this question:
I’m the only one on my team who differentiates. Some of the other teachers are open to it, but they are newer teachers and a little hesitant and scared. How can I support and encourage them?
Here’s what we came up with!
Differentiation Advice: Teacher to Teacher
Share words of encouragement:
- It doesn’t have to be every topic every day.
- It’s an ongoing process. It doesn’t have to be a bunch of different things every day. Don’t feel like you have to come up with something every day.
- You can (and should) start small. Try one thing.
- It works well to start with a standard you’re comfortable with. Don’t try something you’re just one step ahead of them on. Pick something you know well.
- One easy way to get your feet wet is to offer student choice. Beginning with choice in product is a good beginning step.
- Share ideas that have worked for you.
- Suggest they try it out with a beta test group of three students whom you trust and think can handle it. Once they’ve gotten the hang of it, expand your reach.
- Make sure you pretest because it’s not always going to be the same kids in the top group. Students have different strengths, and they can surprise you.
- Invite them to come in and observe the process.
- Help them with one small thing like a menu. Once you get the hang of it, it’s easier, so helping with one thing might give confidence.
- Work with them on a cross-classroom, cross-curriculum, or cross-grade level activity.
- Are they most interested in differentiating the process, the content, the product, or the environment? All of them are possible. Which one attracts them the most?
- Accept the quirkiness of your GT students and have fun with it.
- Differentiation is for everyone, not just GT students. You are already used to differentiating for struggling learners. You’re simply expanding that skill.
- It’s okay to feel uncomfortable. It will feel odd, but that’s okay. Try to get comfortable with the discomfort.
Wrapping up the differentiation advice
I thought their ideas were spot on and really encouraging. If you’re a teacher who wants to encourage others, these ideas are great ones to share.
What ideas do you have for supporting teachers new to differentiation?
I’ll give you two of mine: