Learning Forward Reflection  

January 14, 2016

“Leaders must work with teachers in the same way we ask teachers to work with students.”   ~ Carol Ann Tomlinson

I had the opportunity to attend a session led by Carol Ann Tomlinson at the annual Learning Forward Conference in Washington DC. Ann Tomlinson is an educator and speaker most known for her work with differentiating instruction. This statement she shared with us is powerful and one that I think ties nicely into the products and services that we offer in the Teaching & Learning Department. Administrators and leaders need to keep this thought at the forefront of everything we do. The professional development experiences we offer for teachers need to offer choice, flexibility and an individualized path just as we would ask teachers to do for the students they work with. Differentiation can do that.

Tomlinson discussed the five pillars of differentiation:
1. An environment that supports learning (mindset, connections, community)
2. Powerful learning destination (KUD, engagement, understanding)
3. Knowing where students are in relation to the destination along the way
4. Adjusting teaching to make sure each student arrives at the destination
5. Effective leadership and management of flexible classroom routines.

What is more powerful than the five pillars of differentiation listed above however, is that the same five pillars above apply to principals and leaders seeking change for differentiation. Simply substitute the word teachers for the word students and you can see how to best support the teachers we work with. I think this is a very powerful concept to apply to all we do. Modeling for our teachers what we would want them to use in their classrooms. 

Learning Forward has been a powerful conference and one that is really pushing to “Lead Change. Maximize Impact.” I am thankful for the opportunity to attend, learn and network with other educators across the nation.

-by Jami Schaffnitt, Tand L Coordinator