What is the role of professional development in designing differentiated instruction? What challenges might I face in defining a staff development program in differentiated instruction, as I have not had any experience in this area?
Staff development plays a critical role in establishing a policy of differentiated instruction at a school. Many teachers approach teaching with the idea, first: that it is my job to put the information out there, and the student's job to get it, and second: that I am supposed to teach, and they are supposed to learn. Both of these views reflect traditional approaches to education. The teacher is the center of attention in this traditional model, and the teacher is the fount of wisdom from which the students partake.
The current model of education is that it is the teacher's role to facilitate the student's learning by presenting content, materials and problems that the student can interact with in the quest for developing their own meaning and learning, with the guidance of the teacher. It is a student-centered approach, and the teacher is the "guide on the side" rather than the "sage on the stage."
This is the first hurdle to cross in a staff development course in differentiation - getting teachers to even accept that the learner is the focus of instruction, and not the teacher. This is a radical concept for some educators, and this idea may take some getting used to!
Once this obstacle has been broached, then and only then can differentiation be presented to an audience willing to hear and learn a better way. The definition of differentiation is instruction that is tailored to the unique needs, strengths and weaknesses of the learner.
There are four primary strategies that encompass the concept of differentiation in instruction.
*adjusting the pace of instruction.
*adjusting the cognitive level of instruction.
*adjusting the instruction to address varied learning styles.
Discussion of what topics to include in a staff development program in differentiated instruction, with suggestions for handouts to include.