Full Question: When asked what aspect of our instructional model staff would like to improve, 95 percent said they are wanting to develop their capacity to differentiate effectively. As a result, I developed professional learning that lent heavily on Tomlinson's work. Next week, I want to extend their thinking by moving beyond examples of differentiation, to considering strategies that are shown to have higher impacts. I have put together a document that synthesizes your work with Tomlinson's and Victoria's HITS document. It is designed to supplement the Instructional Model document. I am concerned that it doesn't provide enough reference to differentiating the classroom environment. Do you have any suggestions for high impact strategies that link to this?
Answer: “In the document, you traverse the fine line regarding differentiation and personalised learning--both terms I am no great fan--not because they are not critical but because they end up with so many meanings most of the time and effort is dispelling the myths. I was struck by Christine Rubie-Davies' work on high and low expectation teachers--the former never mentioned differentiation or personalised learning but the latter did a lot--this was because the latter saw differentiation as different tasks for different students--which is NOT what Tomlinson and others mean--they mean having similar success criteria for all students but different ways or different amounts of time to get to the success criteria. Quite different. Similarly, with personalised learning--which I do not use as too often implies indivdualised programs, which just cannot work in a regular class. I would argue great teachers see similarities in a class and allow for variation and NOT that a class is 25-30 individualized different student/programs. So the key is allowing for variation--who is on a different route, who is slipping behind and ahead etc. Whenever you cannot allow different standards for different students--notwithstanding the reality that this is the norm! I would add a lot more about clarifying the teachers' expectations of growth, how they diagnose current status, the clarity of success for all students, and how would they know (and how do the students) know the gap between where they are now and where they wish to be” (John Hattie, personal communication, June 10, 2018).