Differentiation Advice: Teacher to Teacher

advice blocks - Differentiation Teacher-to-Teacher

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.

The Question

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.

Best practices:

  • 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.

Offer to:

  • 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.

Ask them:

  • 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?

Remind them:

  • 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:

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