Leadership for Differentiating Schools and Classrooms

Leadership for Differentiating Schools and Classrooms

Leadership for Differentiating Schools and Classrooms

Leadership for Differentiating Schools and Classrooms

Synopsis

This book explores how school leaders can develop responsive, personalized, and differentiated classrooms. Differentiation is simply a teacher attending to the learning needs of a particular student or small group of students, rather than teaching a class as though all individuals in it were basically alike.

Excerpt

Look inside almost any classroom today and you'll see a mirror of our country. You'll find students from multiple cultures, some of whom are trying to bridge the languages and behaviors of two worlds. Students with very advanced learning skills sit next to students who struggle mightily with one or more school subjects. Children with vast reservoirs of background experience share space with peers whose world is circumscribed by the few blocks of their neighborhood. All these students have the right to expect enthusiastic teachers who are ready to meet the students as they are, and to move them along the pathway of learning as far and as fast as possible.

The reality, however, is that many of these students will encounter a teacher who is enmeshed in a system geared up to treat all 1st graders as though they were essentially the same, or all Algebra I students as though they were alike. Classrooms and schools are rarely organized to respond well to variations in student readiness, interest, or learning profile (Archambault et al., 1993; Bateman, 1993; International Institute for Advocacy for School Children, 1993; McIntosh, Vaughn, Schumm, Haager, & Lee, 1993; Tomlinson, 1995; Tomlinson, Moon, & Callahan, 1998; Westberg, Archambault, Dobyns, & a and b; Salvin, 1993). Most educators appear even to lack images of how a classroom might look—how we would [do school]—if our intent was to respond to individual learner needs. In fact, the challenge of addressing academic diversity in today's complex classrooms is as important and difficult a challenge as we have before us.

We've learned a great deal recently about how applying [differentiated instruction] can help address the needs of academically diverse learners in our increasingly diverse classrooms (see Chapter 2 for a discussion of the . . .

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