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From “Good” to “Great”!

What Differentiated Instruction Means for Our Students

In the third installment of the “Blue Knight Spotlight” podcast, Dr. Gould moves the conversation to the work our district is doing in the critical area of Teaching and Learning. This work ties back to the development of the District Improvement Strategy that began two years ago. At that time, students, parents, staff and community members had the opportunity to respond to a comprehensive survey about our district. The feedback was extensive and robust: in regards to academics in our district, respondents discussed their perceptions about rigor in our coursework and their desire for more opportunities for high achieving students. The resounding message was that we were not differentiating our instruction enough to appropriately meet the learning needs of each and every student.

The District Improvement Strategy committee prioritized the following Teaching and Learning objective to address these concerns:

“The Sandwich Public Schools will implement structures and support systems that aid in the development of all students in the skills to continually grow and learn.”

Simply put, differentiating instruction means that educators identify differences and similarities in learning processes among their students and plan their instruction according to their needs. While this is a complex effort for educators, we know it is the path that will lead all our students from “Good” to “Great” in the ways that are best for each of them.

As part of our commitment to the objectives identified in our District Improvement Strategy, over the past year, our administrators and teachers have been studying the work of Carol Ann Tomlinson, a respected expert on differentiation of instruction. This study will continue this year as part of our professional development programs and all teachers have received a copy of her book, How to Differentiate Instruction in Academically Diverse Classrooms. Additionally, teachers and curriculum leaders worked with Lisa Westman, another expert in this area during the professional development half day in October.

As the year progresses, Dr. Gould will continue to update parents on these efforts including interviews with staff members and success stories from our classrooms. The teachers, support staff and administrative team are committed to this work that will help take us to the next level!

Check out the Blue Knight Spotlight podcast here: