Mixed-ability classrooms that offer differentiated instruction make good sense for teachers, as well as students. For many teachers, though, offering differentiated instruction first requires a paradigm shift.
The Teacher's Role in a Differentiated Classroom
Teachers who become comfortable with differentiated classrooms would probably say their role differs in some significant ways from that of a more traditional teacher. When teachers differentiate instruction, they move away from seeing themselves as keepers and dispensers of knowledge and move toward seeing themselves as organizers of learning opportunities. While content knowledge remains important, these teachers focus less on knowing all the answers, and focus more on “reading their students.” They then create ways to learn that both capture students' attention and lead to understanding. Organizing a class for effective activity and exploration becomes the highest priority.