You can google differentiation and see tons of ideas, photos and lesson suggestions. You can seek new ways to improve your techniques and approaches to reach new learners or ones you feel you haven't reached enough. I do it, visuals are my daily PD. I have ideas or questions and I search. I need to see models or how other educators do things since I'm in my own classroom all day. This is great! But, when it comes to being marked on your evaluation, differentiated instruction means more!
This blog post is going to share a suggestion for differentiating in your classroom when it involves best practices with your Teacher Evaluation Rubric. My suggestion will show you an easy way to understand your Teacher Evaluation Rubric with differentiation.
Differentiation on your Formal Teacher Evaluation Rubric
Every teacher is evaluated on a series of components based on multiple formal and informal observations each school year. Every teacher has a component of differentiation as a piece to their yearly evaluation. What I am clarifying here, is we as K-12 educators are all evaluated the same way but by a different tool with different wording depending on where you work.
As a Reading Specialist and prior Literacy Coach, teachers always came to me about their rating in this category. Their questions always came back to the same thing...
Teacher: "I'm using my reading level data to form my small groups!" Me: "Awesome, that's great! You are delivering direct specific instruction based on your formative data of where the children are in reading level growth."
Teacher: "I'm using my quarterly formative data to form my small groups! Me: "Awesome, that's great! You are delivering specific instruction based on your formative data of standards your students are missing."
Sound familiar? Well, the above examples are truly great teaching! But, it's only part of the component of differentiation. It is the part of the component in your evaluation that is predicted differentiation based off of data.
But there is another part and it sounds easy, but it's tough. It is usually the difference between obtaining the highest rating in differentiation or not.
Have you seen this on social media? This image is from TeachThought!
(click the photo for a direct link)
It's true, teachers make so many minute by minute decisions a day about everything. Now apply this to a lesson!
Let me make it a little clearer and break it down:
- When planning a mini lesson you need to add an area to your plan. Title it something like anticipating misconceptions, re-teach, etc...
- Plan for students to not master your lesson standard or objective [Yes, plan for failure! Plan the reality, everyone is not perfect the first attempt]. In this plan note exactly what you will do that day for students with misconceptions or failures. Then note what you will do the next day if misconceptions or failures continue.
- Now, prep resources for this group of students [Regardless their formative data or reading level.] Have a little area or spot at your small group table for this random group. This random group will be in the moment so you will need to be ready. You don't know exactly who will have misconceptions this day. It could be your low kid or your high kid.
- Do your whole group lesson. During the lesson activity, have documentation of some sort by your choice. This can be in the form of anything anecdotal like a status check, roster, standard checklist, etc... By oral and visual observations note and rate who has it, who kind of has it and who does not have it. This can be any rating system you want.
- A big key... The students have to also be self assessing. Students need to rate themselves. This could be by a number rubric, color rubric or etc... You need to see how students internalize their work as well in comparison to the expectation.
- Now, the work period is ending. This is when you will send those who found success on to their independent time, stations, centers, etc... You will pull the students with misconceptions. It will end up being an immediate intervention in a way prior to starting your regular scheduled differentiated groups based off of reading level data or formal data.
(The same concept applys for Math!)
This is differentiation in action, planning for misconceptions with instant instruction to remediation then and there. Why is this hard for teachers? Well, time! Time to plan for your mini lessons and small groups is enough. Now your adding planning ahead for the unknown as well. But, I feel it is challenging because it's hard for people who evaluate using these fancy formal teacher rubrics to explain in a simple form to teachers. There's no real model for it unless you receive PD that is real and not from a PP or you happen to observe it yourself. Lastly, it's a game time in action observation. So it's hard to share with teachers what this would look like.
Of course, after this first group is done. Then you would continue on with your differentiation instruction of your "current" small groups based off of your formative and reading level assessments.
If you are effective at doing "differentiated instruction" you need to be doing the known and the unknown. You need to be doing the preparation for what you know the students need based off of large pieces of data and you need to be doing the preparation for what you don't know your students need based off of regular daily mini lessons.
Lastly, you need to have documentation to show your evaluator because they are not available every day to see this in action [I think photographs are better to show!]. Evaluators would like to see this on lesson plans noted and to see how you document to grab those students with misconceptions and intervene.
This is tough, I hear ya! Sometimes I think teacher is not a good job title for us! Maybe juggler, physic or something else would explain what we really do all the time! I think this shirt explains it all!
I hope this blog post gave you some insight that you can apply and you have found it helpful!
(click on the photo or HERE for a direct link)