This summer, the Tools for Teaching Teens group has been conducting a study of an incredibly useful book, Differentiating and the Brain by David A. Sousa and Carol Ann Tomlinson. I have learned so much from this book that I plan to implement in my classroom in the upcoming year. If you are just joining us, be sure to check out the other chapter summaries and reflections:
Chapter 1: The Nonnegotiables of Effective Differentiation
Chapter 2: Mindset, Learning Environment, and Effective Differentiation
Chapter 3: Curriculum and Differentiation
Chapter 4: Classroom Assessment and Differentiation
Chapter 5: Differentiating in Response to Student Readiness
Chapter 6: Differentiating in Response to Student Interest
Chapter 7: Differentiating in Response to Student Learning Profile
This last chapter is full of ideas for managing a differentiated classroom. As I read, I found myself imagining the many ways I will transform my classroom this year.
Chapter 8 distinguishes between leadership and management. Essentially, managers manipulate, while leaders build relationships. A differentiated classroom must be led through flexibility, not rigidity. Of course, management is a factor in leadership, but not the factor.
The first sign of a dysfunctional classroom is combativeness. There is a “me against them” attitude on the teacher’s part, and the students’ respond in kind.
This type of dysfunction doesn’t occur when the teacher is a genuine leader.
Tomlinson and Sousa offer strategies for becoming an effective leader. But before we delve into the strategies, let’s look at the principles at the foundation of leadership:
Also, lead students in finding a shared classroom vision through team-building.
1. Students should understand why the classroom matters.
2. Students should understand why each person is important.
3. Students should feel pride in being a part of the classroom.
There are a ton of team-building ideas HERE.
While leadership is primary, management is secondary. Here are Tomlinson and Sousa’s ideas for managing a differentiated classroom:
The take away from chapter 8? Leadership is the key to managing a differentiated classroom effectively. Leadership emerges from building relationships. Care about your students. Care about their learning. Have a quality curriculum. All will be well.
What do you think? Do you have a differentiated classroom? Did you find this book as helpful as we did? Leave a comment below to let me know!