In an ideal world, educators would have hours of free time devoted to creative teaching and differentiated instruction. They would have endless amounts of energy to plan lessons. They would also have polite and well-rested students who never caused problems.
Unfortunately, we don’t always live in the ideal world. In the real world, educators have budgets, meetings, limited planning time, and students who are occasionally uncooperative. Sometimes teachers have to work in less-than-ideal circumstances.
How can educators differentiate their instruction well in the real world?
Education guru Lisa Van Gemert has a few ideas. She created an entire course and in-depth handout to help teachers learn tips for differentiating instruction easily. Her ideas are created to take up very little time and are straightforward.
Differentiating instruction through environment
Ms. Van Gemert’s energy and passion are contagious. She says that students are already naturally differentiated and educators need to respond to that. This doesn’t mean that you need to make 30 different lesson plans, but it does mean that you need to have a plan.
One of the real world ways that Ms. Van Gemert differentiates is by focusing on the environment of the classroom. This isn’t as much about decorating as it is about creating a physical space that enhances learning and focus.
Some of the practical ways that you can do this in your classroom are:
- Using a rolling chalkboard instead of a projector to make sure students in every part of the room can see well.
- Creating centers with extra materials for students. Fill these centers with deeper and more advanced materials as well as extra practice materials.
- Ordering interesting and academic magazines for your classroom. Leave the magazines around the room and let students read them when they finish their work.
One of the problems that Ms. Van Gemert sees with differentiated instruction today is that some teachers think if they give more work to more advanced students then they have accomplished the goal. However, all students need differentiated instruction in order to grow.
What will educators learn?
After taking this course educators will walk away knowing:
- Guiding principles and key ideas for implementing differentiated instruction
- Strategies for differentiating the environment in the classroom
- Real-life examples of differentiated classroom environments
When educators apply these simple strategies in their classrooms, they better equip their students to become lifelong learners.
Which T-TESS Domains and Dimensions does this course apply to?
This course applies to the following T-TESS dimensions:
1.1 (Standards and alignment)
2.1 (Achieving Expectations)
2.2 (Content Knowledge and Expertise)
Ready to learn more?
“Differentiation in the Real World – Environment” is just one of many courses in the T-TESS library. T-TESS Cube is a library of professional courses led by experts in education. The courses are aligned to the T-TESS rubric. They are a great way to develop teachers and administrators.