Informing the Emergent Practice of Differentiated Instruction through Professional Learning Communities

Screen shot 2013-08-18 at 9.51.26 AME1. – “Exemplify professionally informed, growth-centered practice”.  To me, program standard E1 means showing a high-level of collaboration with fellow teacher candidates, my mentor, and the school where I will perform my residency in order to find the most effective research-based practices for growth.     Recently, I had the opportunity to collaborate with two of my cohort-mates on a differentiated instruction (DI) research project.   Our group shared a sincere desire to learn how DI can be effectively implemented in classrooms.  We will all be helping children with learning disabilities during our internships.   Also, we shared skepticism in the existence of research-based strategies that simultaneously cater to the all the diverse learning needs of a classroom, but we hoped to find evidence to prove our doubts wrong.  The research we found proved that DI is possible in an inclusion or self-contained classroom.  Furthermore, we shared the encouraging conclusion that DI empowers all learners in a classroom, regardless of style or ability. The evidence (presented on the right) shows a sample of our conclusions, with steps for implementing DI included. These research-based arguments and strategies for DI will be tremendously informative to my work in a K/1 inclusion classroom this coming academic year.  I extracted two pearls of knowledge from this collaborative research experience: one, that work in professional learning communities (PLC) is essential to growth as a teacher; two, the empowering knowledge that effective DI is revolutionary for any classroom.  The implications for student learning are that the integration of an effective DI framework in today’s classroom, regardless of the students’ learning styles or abilities, is essential and beneficial to all learners. Furthermore, because learning differences are established as the norm, students develop empathy.  The implications for my learning are that I have the rich resource of PLC’s to tap into when I want to grow in my teaching practice.  I look forward to utilizing these effective DI strategies with my K/1 class in the coming academic year.

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