Eric Hirsch is a researcher with the New Teacher Center who has conducted some groundbreaking surveys on how teachers view their working conditions. Last spring, I asked him what sort of professional development teachers say they need most. His answer was unequivocal: differentiated instruction.
For me, that answer crystallized a general sense I had about both the challenges and ideals of the teaching profession today. With student diversity growing dramatically (both in terms of background and readiness), and schools facing mounting pressure to boost achievement, many teachers are desperately looking for ways to attend to students’ unique learning needs and give them as much individual support as possible. It is, if you think about it, a deeply humane effort.
This issue of Teacher Professional Development Sourcebook was created with that effort in mind. It features an extensive interview with Carol Ann Tomlinson, one of the foremost authorities on differentiated instruction. In it, Tomlinson discusses the key components of differentiation, explains its growing importance, and offers some helpful best-practices advice.
We also look at a school district that is working with “response to intervention,” a framework designed to help teachers address students’ different learning levels, and talk to a director of the National Writing Project about how the writing process can individualize instruction.
And even before all that, there’s something else we’re very proud of: A “From the Field” section in which teachers share their own strategies for engaging diverse learners.
We hope these pieces—along with our exclusive directory of professional development products and services—give you plenty of ideas and inspiration for the school year ahead.
A version of this article appeared in the September 10, 2008 edition of Teacher PD Sourcebook