Reframing Differentiation: Meeting Needs and Fairness in the Classroom
Updated: May 3
[#facilitation👩🏻🏫] Today, I asked some *brilliant* teachers: what are some alternative words you would personally use to describe ‘differentiation’?
Two words stood out from the team:
Now, ‘Fairness’ was novel. I like it.
I have found that word ‘differentiation’, like ‘metacognition’, can be intimidating, tiring, and complicated for many #teachers. I even heard a teacher say they dislike the words!
While I wouldn’t go so far, I do like reframing these words, and thinking of it them in creative ways, like the teachers today did.
As they shared, the idea of ‘needs' and 'fairness' are major goals for all teachers.
🤔 But how do you meet needs and be fair to 30 unique learners all at once?
💡 One way is to map activities and challenges with a social emotional status check.
Here’s how I did this today:
1️⃣ I had ample and varied worksheets ready with the target content, but adapted the process for each one:
1 activity was for groupwork, 1 for pairwork, and 1 for solo work.
2️⃣ I checked the social/emotional status of the group:
When I train teachers, I am nearly always the last person to see them after they have had a hectic day of teaching.
Energy levels are typically low, and CPD is the last thing on the checklist. It’s vital that I check the pulse of the group. Today, I asked them to:
Wave 1 finger in the air if they felt they needed some quiet time
Wave 2 fingers if they were feeling sociable
Wave 3 if they felt energised and ready to chat to several people at once
3️⃣ I gave out activities based on this social emotional check. For example:
Only one teacher was fired up and showed 3 fingers, the rest of the table 2, so I had her table do a whole group activity.
Another teacher was very sure she wanted to sit quietly: I gave her the solo worksheet.
When doing the reflective portion of this workshop, both of those teachers affirmed what I had observed: they were content and comfortable with their respective activities.
They both had a different experience, but accomplished the same goal.
Note that a crucial part of that immersion is to adapt tasks and worksheets. And one of the best parts about the worksheets in Cambridge University Press Education resources is that they are all fully editable: you download them from #CambridgeGo, and have all the content ready to tweak for your needs. This is ideal for adaptive teaching that considers social-emotional needs.
P.S. Today marks my first workshop of 2023, at Brilliant International Private School, Sharjah - UAE. Thank you! For all the hugs and high 5’s 💛. Note the pun in the opening sentence (:
P.P.S. Found this helpful? I ran out of space here, but share more in the comments 🤭🙋🏻♀️👀