ABSTRACT

Where Do I Start? In this chapter, you will learn how to assess your own teaching style, atti­

tudes, and practices to clarify how you can refine your skills. You've already started differentiating instruction. You probably already do so more than you think. How have you incorporated any of the following practices in the last month? Your workshops and collegial discussions will be about:

♦ Your habits of mind ♦ The "Big Ideas" of thinking ♦ The "Big Test" ♦ Understanding your teaching style ♦ A conversation

Teacher Habits of Mind Differentiated instruction (DI) results from certain habits of mind about

teaching and learning. These habits of mind enable the teacher to be flexible and long-sighted in how she views her role. Consider:

♦ As a teacher, I revise and reflect: In a differentiated classroom, teachers have the habit of mind to continuously rework, reword, and review lessons. The curriculum adheres to the demands of the "Big Test" without becoming rigid. In order for student achievement to be lasting, teachers need to constantly ask themselves: • Is what the kids are doing meeting the standards in terms of knowl­

edge and skills? • Is my concern for individual differences working for or against my be­

lief that students need to move outside of their comfort zones? ♦ I encourage lots of student talk: If DI is constructivist, which, of

course, it is, then students need to talk the talk. A lot. They need to talk to each other, to the teacher, and to themselves in the language of the subject. Education reformer Heidi Hayes Jacobs urges teach­ ers to "put words in kids' mouths." As teachers, we are initiating the novice into the professional conversation. Just as learning a foreign language demands that the learner speak the new language, learn­ ing science, math, or history is learning a new language as well. For some secondary students, especially those from cultures other than American, the classroom is supposed to be a quiet place, where

students are listening to the teacher. Such students are disturbed by the hubbub of student talk, and even think that a noisy class is cha­ otic. This belief in student passivity, although unfounded, is widely respected and trusted. Many teachers feel out of control amid a lot of student talk. Indeed, it is easy for study groups to get blown off course in a matter of seconds. Paradoxically, passive learning, where students are quiet receptors of teacher wisdom, is actually easier to manage than active learning. But modern DI is not the old system of "coming in and getting your folders." If learning is to be con­ structed, it is to be constructed noisily.