What Differentiation of Instruction Is Not
Throughout my career as a professor, I was called upon to supervise student teachers. This was an honor for me, as I enjoyed the prospect of shaping and molding the next generation of educators. On one occasion, one of my student teachers had a problem differentiating instruction in the classroom setting. I was new to this university, so I hadn’t had the opportunity to instruct this particular student. So when I told her that I needed to see her differentiate instruction, instead of giving one size fits all lectures, activities, and assessments, I automatically thought she knew what I was talking about. I had no idea that the way she had been taught to differentiate instruction was incorrect. This was evident during my next classroom visit.
After realizing that someone had failed to instruct her correctly, I decided not hold it against her. I sat down with her and explained to her what differentiation was and what it was not. Also, I decided to go the extra mile and teach a couple of lessons for her students during which I modeled the process. Her cooperating teacher did the same, and after a couple of days, we handed the reigns back over to her. To our surprise, she differentiated instruction better than we had ever seen a student teacher do. We were so proud of her.
The moral of this story is that it is paramount that new and veteran teachers understand how to differentiate instruction. If they can’t, they will never be able to help their students reach their full potential. To help you get started, I decided to share the graphic below, which explains what differentiation of instruction is not.