Differentiated instruction in the classroom is not a new idea. In fact, it is so not new that a search for DI resources will return thousands of results. If you use Pinterest to search the term, your screen will quickly fill with beautiful resources promising to assist with DI. In my last ten years as an educator, I was provided DI training in three separate districts. Bottom line – Differentiated Instruction is not a surprise.
However, I am still noticing a somewhat troubling trend. Based on my research and recent conversations, it could be assumed that the quantity of work is directly related to quality differentiation. Based on this assumption, a student who already understands or quickly grasps a concept should be asked to do additional worksheets or activities, or that student should move faster through the required material. The opposite is true for struggling learners; they are required to complete less tasks. So, how do we move from building urgency behind the implementation of DI to creating quality differentiated experiences in our classrooms?
I believe, at least in part, this can be addressed through instructional leadership and coaching. Are we, as leaders or invested colleagues, taking the time to talk with teachers about their practice? Are we asking good questions to help teachers build their understanding of this approach? Are we encouraging teachers experiencing DI success to share their strategies with others?
How have you created successful DI experiences in your classroom, building, or district?