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Chapter 2 - Examining Your Professional Practices

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John Powaski

on 8 March 2013

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Transcript of Chapter 2 - Examining Your Professional Practices

Know Yourself as
a Teacher... Examining Your Professional
Practices As with most new practices, the key to not getting overwhelmed is to "start small but start somewhere" (Heacox, 2009, p. 11). Is Differentiation Occurring In Our Schools? Sometimes we have to be honest with what we see under a magnifying glass. Research conducted by Tomlinson (1995) supports the notion that most teachers feel that in some way they are already differentiating instruction in our schools, but they feel trapped by standardized testing.

Teachers sometimes also felt that if they varied instruction too much, they might receive unfavorable recourse from students and parents who feel that different tasks varied for different students is an unfair way to properly assess growth (Tomlinson, 1995).

Heacox (2009) points out that teachers are no different than the societies we live in. "Teachers represent a diverse group of professionals" who are in "different places in developing their professional skills related to differentiation" (Heacox, 2009, p. 11).

Therefore, in order to make growth as an individual one must take time to reflect on his or her own personal values and beliefs as they pertain to differentiation in their own classroom. Self-Check
Teaching Inventory Professional Development
in Differentiation After the completion of your "Teacher Inventory", Heacox (2009) has provided an additional self-assessment that will help teachers critically examine their own professional development as it pertains to differentiation. Getting To Know Your Students Just as important as it is to understand your own strengths and weaknesses as a teacher, it has been found that it is just as vital to understand the diversity an uniqueness of your students (Tomlinson, 1995).

Heacox (2009) emphasizes that "today's classrooms reflect astonishing levels of academic diversity, and teachers report that the diversity of students seem to increase each year" (p. 19).

In a recent video shown below, Carol Ann Tomlinson discusses this importance of understanding student diversity within your classroom. Surveying Your Students In addition to the "Teacher Inventory" and the "Continuum of Levels" with regards to differentiation, Heacox (2009) has also included "Survey of Students" that is geared to helping teachers develop and understand the diversity within their classrooms. Class Diversity Profiles As teachers become more aware of what their students individual needs are, they can begin to assemble profiles for each students. These profiles will help the teacher determine what types of learning goals or KUDo's are appropriate for each individual. Know Your Students.... Self-Reflection Heacox (2009) emphasizes the importance that as educators we must take time to reflect on our practices and strategies that we use to differentiate instruction in our classrooms. Heacox, 2009, p. 11-12 A very informative tool called a "Teacher Inventory on Differentiation Practices and Strategies" will help one analyze which elements of differentiation are commonly found within their classroom (Heacox, 2009, p. 13-14). It is suggested that after taking this inventory, you take time to reflect on what parts of your curriculum, instructional planning and flexible instruction are being used. The ranges for your self-assessment will span from never/almost never, seldom, sometimes and consistently. Once you have analyzed your answers, Heacox (2009) suggests that you start out small. The most important aspect is that you choose to start, but do not overwhelm yourself. Heacox (2009) suggest that "you add one new differentiation strategy at a time, practice it, refine its use with your students," then move on (p. 11). A copy of this inventory can be found on the resource slide at the end of this presentation. In order to move forward and have a positive impact on differentiation, one must know his or her own weaknesses and strength. Reflection is a key part of professional development that "allows the critical pieces of teacher knowledge and skills to come together in an authentic opportunity to gain insight about the quality of learning experiences that are being delivered" (VanTassel-Baska, 2012, p. 44). Heacox, 2009, p. 11-14 VanTassel-Baska, J., (2012). Analyzing differentiation in the classroom. Gifted Child Today, 35. Retrieved from http://gct.sagepub.com/content/35/1/42.full.pdf+html The "Continuum of Levels of Teacher Development in Differentiation" will allow teachers to understand their strengths and weakness as they pertain to the five domains of differentiation which are: Teacher Beliefs, Role of the Teacher, Instruction, Assessment and Grading Practices. The information provided in this assessment should be used to assist teachers in understanding where they presently are and what steps they should take in their professional development. A copy of this inventory can be found on the resource slide at the end of this presentation.

Heacox, 2009, p. 12-18 Tomlinson, C. A., (2011, October 5). What is differentiation instruction? Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=01798frime q Heacox, 2009, p. 19 Through detailed observations and a series of thought provoking questions, Heacox (2009) has laid out a foundation of questions and profiles for teachers to understand various preferences as they might pertain to readiness, interests, learning preferences, and needs with regards to educational needs. With the information that can be gained from such inventories, teachers are better able to plan, guide, and implement curriculum and assessments that better meet the individual needs of their students. A copy of this survey can be found on the resource slide at the end of this presentation.

Heacox, 2009, p. 12-18 Teachers will then have the capability to design practical and valid instruction for gifted students with their particular and specific learning differences in mind (Heacox, 2009, p. 2). In conclusion, Heacox (2009) has also included a "Class Diversity Profile" table that will help you organize and identify your students with advanced abilities. The data constructed in this table can also help teachers with extensions or modifications to content based upon the learners readiness and interests. A copy of this profile table can be found on the resource slide at the end of this presentation.

Heacox, 2009, p. 19 - 24 Professionalism Coleman, Gallagher, and Job (2012) reiterate that "the knowledge base of a professional teacher is not static: it evolves with experience, it is validated through the shared wisdom of a collaborative team" (as cited in Hiebert et al., 2002; Talbert & McLaughlin, 1994). Heacox (2009) suggests that as individuals take stock of their knowledge and growth with regards to differentiation, we are able to progress from a novice teacher who is at the beginning of development into expert teachers who show evidence of comprehensive differentiation in their classrooms (p. 12). "In the complex world of schools today, school improvement depends on the work of principals, teacher leaders, and the faculty as a whole" (Heacox, 2009, p. 158). "Students learn better when principals, teachers, and others develop collaborative relationships within a professional learning community." Teacher Leaders Katzenmeyer & Moller 2009, p. 91. Heacox, 2009, p. 13 - 18, 20-24. Teacher Resources References Teacher Inventory on
Differentiation Practices and Strategies Survey of Students Class Diversity Profile Continuum of Levels of
Teacher Development in Differentiation Coleman, M. R., Gallagher, J. J., & Job, J. (2012). Developing and sustaining professionalism within gifted education. Gifted Child Quarterly, 35 (1), 27-36. Retrieved from http://gct.sagepub.com/content/35/1/27.full.pdf

Heacox, D. (2009). Making differentiation a habit. Minneapolis, MN: Free Spirit Publishing Inc.

Katzenmeyer, M., & Moller, P. G., (2009). Awakening the sleeping giant: Helping teachers develop as leaders (3rd edition). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press

Tomlinson, C. A., (1995). Deciding to differentiate instruction in middle years: one schools journey. Gifted Child Quarterly, 39 (2), 77-86. Retrieved from http://gerric.arts.unsw.edu.au/media/File/Tomlinson.pdf

Tomlinson, C. A., (2011, October 5). What is differentiation instruction? Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=01798frime q

VanTassel-Baska, J. (2012). Analyzing differentiation in the classroom. Gifted Child Quarterly, 35, (1), 43-49. Retrieved from http://gct.sagepub.com/content/35/1/42.full.pdf+html Heacox, 2009, p11-12 Coleman, M. R., Gallagher, J. J., & Job, J. (2012). Developing and sustaining professionalism within gifted education. Gifted Child Quarterly, 35 (1), 27-36. Retrieved from http://gct.sagepub.com/content/35/1/27.full.pdf Heacox, 2009
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