Classrooms of today are different from classrooms of the past and therefore require a different approach. According to an Edutopia article by Susie Boss (2012), A Parent’s Guide to 21st Century Learning, “In today’s progressive classrooms, yesterday’s rows of quiet listeners have given way to small groups of active learners, thoroughly engaged in discussions and explorations. (p.1)” Crowe (2004) also states, “Classrooms today are often so different from those of a generation ago.” With that being said, the modern classroom is much different that the times of yesterday. I know if I were not a current teacher, I myself, would be a bit confused with the methodology of modern classrooms and would need the help of the school system to feel comfortable. Therefore I find it reasonable to ensure that parents and students are informed on why DI is what’s best for them.
In a differentiated classroom you might initially find your parents of your students and students a bit apprehensive because it is a much different approach to education than they have experienced. However, there are ways to ensure they become onboard and supportive of DI. Tomlinson (2001) points out that DI is needed because of the differing needs of students through his numerous analogies such as what would happen if we forced a child to walk before he was ready to. His point is all kids eventually get there, but on their own time. I couldn’t agree more and that is why it is my goal to ensure to students and parents that I will try my best to differentiate to each child’s needs so that they grow to their fullest potential as an individual. I think most parents and students would agree they all come to us at different levels.
Most parents want their child to be successful and a differentiated instructed classroom is ideal for this. Tomlinson (2001) suggests that you can help them by: differentiating instruction so that everyone grows in all key skills and knowledge areas, the teacher carefully assesses and analyzes knowledge learn to help plan all lessons, lessons reflect the teacher’s best understanding of where the student is academically, teachers welcome discussing with parents their child in order to better serve them, and a goal of DI is to help students become independent learners. Another positive aspect of DI is it allows for the higher quicker students to be challenged and working hard at new concepts, instead of waiting for the majority of the class to catch up (Tomlinson, 2001). I know for many parents knowing that the teacher is now trying to assist all students in reaching their fullest potential is enough to get them on board with DI.
One common obstacle teachers will face with parents and students is centered around the idea of fairness. Because in a DI classroom what is fair is not always equal among students, because of the notion that not all students are created equally. It is my belief as an educator that we need to remind our parents and students that they are all different and as a sole individual you will do your best to accommodate their learning needs. Tomlinson (2001) suggests our message as educators might be, “I see the potential in your child. I am excited about being a part of developing that potential. (p.43)”
It is important to note that a DI classroom better prepare students for the future. According to Boss (2012) it better prepares them for the future because DI allows for more, collaboration, creativity, communication, and critical skills. These are all skills needed to be successful in college, careers, and life. With that being said, DI makes sense and with efforts to communicate this to parents and students they themselves will be on board to make the best out of their education. I look forward to meeting and communicating with parents, students, colleagues, and administration the need to make sure DI is taking place in the classroom. Lastly I would like to leave with my closing thoughts my Smutney (2004), “Fundamentally, differentiating is about honoring the individuality of the child and letting that guide what he or she learns and how.” For me it is about honoring each unique individual.
Boss, Susie; Edutopia.org (2012). A Parent’s Guide to 21st Century Learning. Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/pdfs/guides/edutopia-parents-guide-21st-century-learning.pdf.
Crowe, C. (2004). Wonderful Wednesdays. Retreived from https://www.responsiveclassroom.org/wonderful-wednesdays/.
Earnst, A., & Wegdam, M. (producers). (2011). Differentiating Instruction. New Teacher Survival Guide. Podcast retrieved from https://www.teachingchannel.org/videos/differentiating-instruction#video-sidebar_tab_video-guide-tab.
Smutny, J. (2004). Differentiated Instruction for Young Gifted Children: How Parents Can Help. Retrieved April 17, 2017, from http://www.davidsongifted.org/Search-Database/entry/A10465
Tomlinson, Carol A. How to Differentiate Instruction in Mixed-Ability Classrooms. vol. 2nd ed, Assoc. for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 2001. EBSCOhost.