Thoughts about Differentiation

Carol Ann Tomlinson is considered a leading expert on Differentiation.  She says “Excellence in teaching is when we do everything that we can to help students become everything they can.”

“Everything that we can” is a big statement.  How overwhelming! You don’t just want me to do something a little bit extra, you want me to do EVERYTHING?! What are you saying?

The next part of the statement is vital here.  “…WE CAN”. It tells us that we don’t have to do everything that is suggested for students with a particular disability or specific learning need, it means that we do everything we can.  Be reasonable.  Do what is possible.

Remember that one or two well executed strategies will have a greater impact on student outcomes.  There can be hundreds of strategies that are recommended for supporting a specific learning difficulty, but not all of them will be appropriate for the student in your class.   Choose one or two that you can manage and do all you can to make them succeed.  If one of them isn’t working, check on your practice (or how you are implementing it) and if it still isn’t working, try something else.

“Everything we can” means we work at implementing strategies in the best way possible.  “Everything we can” means if something doesn’t work, we try something else.  “Everything we can” means figuring out which strategy will work best for a student and implementing that strategy consistently, day in and day out.  “Everything we can, doesn’t mean doing it all.”

“Everything we can” means doing our best for the success of our students.

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