Readiness for Differentiation

To Support Differentiation, Leaders Should:

  • Establish clarity of definition
  • Provide an environment supportive of risk
  • Balance “seeing the light” and “feeling the heat”
  • Differentiate for teachers
  • Provide guidance in beginning sensibly and progressing steadily
  • Provide materials and time
  • Examine impact of current policies and practices
  • Communicate with parents
  • Begin with those ready to start
  • Develop planning and teaching teams which routinely include gifted and talented, remedial and special education personnel
  • Start small, build local leadership
  • Re-focus/re-energize local leaders with experts
  • Integrate differentiation into curriculum development
  • Maintain long term commitment to change
  • Understand that differentiation is part of a range of services

Initiating Change for Systemic Differentiation

  • Establish a need – articulate a vision
  • Establish common terms and definitions
  • Build understanding among stakeholders
  • Link differentiation with best practice
  • Focus district initiatives
  • Attend to competing mandates
  • Plan for leadership and support
  • Allocate financial resources
  • Look ahead to assessing progress
  • Plan for the long haul

Implementing Systemic Differentiation

    Strategies that Focus on Personnel

    • Hiring for differentiation
    • Call on skills of Guidance Counselors, Social Workers, Technology Specialists, Media Specialists
    • Recruit retirees

    Strategies that Lend Concrete Support for Differentiation

    • Providing opportunities to see differentiation in action
    • Making multi-text adoption
    • Offering mini grants
    • Providing recognition for teacher efforts and growth

    Strategies that Promote Sharing of Ideas

    • Using core groups to share the word
    • Using shared reflective journals
    • Using faculty meetings to spotlight individual and group efforts
    • Creating curriculum tubs
    • Using mailbox staff development

    Structural Strategies that Promote Differentiation

    • Using looping
    • Developing multiage classrooms
    • Assigning clusters of learners to classrooms
    • Creating learning centers for a range of students

Staff Development for Systemic Differentiation

  • Staff development should be built on a common vocabulary related to differentiation.
  • Staff development should attend to teachers’ varied readiness, interest and learning profiles.
  • Staff development should focus on particular needs of particular grade levels and subjects.
  • Staff development plans should continually involve Building Administrators and other District Leaders who will work directly with teachers.
  • Staff development should continually stress high quality curriculum and instruction as the starting point for differentiation.
  • Staff development should be planned to ensure transfer of understandings and skills into classroom practice.
  • All staff development should be aligned with district differentiation goals.
  • Staff development that asks much of teachers should recognize teacher efforts.

Continuation of Systemic Growth Toward Differentiation

  • Hiring at all levels to support differentiation
  • Integrating differentiation into written curriculum and standards
  • Supporting and assessing growth toward differentiation at the school and classroom levels
  • Examining outcomes of efforts
  • Communicating interactively with parents about differentiation
  • Making sure reporting aligns with differentiation

Carol Tomlinson


Differentiation Checklist - DIAL Task Force

Preparing Teachers for Differentiated Instruction