Administrators: Focus on Supporting Differentiation

As an administrator, you understand the importance of differentiation in the classrooms of your school as a way to improve student achievement for all students.  You know that, as the instructional leader, your role is to make sure that differentiation is taking place consistently in every classroom.

But HOW?  Below are some suggestions that you may have overlooked or forgotten!

  • Talk the Talk.  Do you really know what differentiation looks like in the classroom?  If not, make the opportunity to educate yourself. Dr. Carol Ann Tomlinson and her website,, are a great place to start.  Besides her books and presentations, Dr. Tomlinson’s website has links to ASCD articles and materials on differentiation.  They will help ensure that you can “talk the talk” with your staff.
  •  Now, Walk the Walk.  How often are you getting into classrooms?  Are you scheduling the time on your calendar?  This is the best way to let teachers know that what is happening in the classrooms is a priority for you.
  •  Discover Ways to Demonstrate Differentiation Yourself.  Professional development, even staff meetings, can hold elements of differentiation for staff members.  Be sure to take a few minutes to debrief, so that staff knows that what they have just participated in is differentiation, and give them the opportunity to talk together about how they could incorporate the techniques into their classrooms.
  •  Finally, Feed Them!  Walkthroughs and classroom observations are nearly useless without the final piece….feedback for the teachers!  Send a written note or email compliment when you catch them differentiating; make time to ask a probing question when you consistently don’t find differentiation in a classroom.  You’ll find out what your teachers need, whether through opportunities to watch someone else differentiate, a book study, a workshop, or online resources.  Start the conversation! 

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