Personalising is really an outcome of differentiation: points to note for educators


At a recent regional Principal conference I heard Vic Zbar, an educational consultant based in Victoria; speak about personalising teaching and learning. Personalising learning he put it was really an outcome of differentiation.

Vic then made a number of points I thought worth repeating:

There is generally too much whole class teaching and not enough classrooms based flexible groupings.

I recall a teacher a few years ago reflecting on their coaching experience say how hard it was to stop whole class teaching going for 30 minutes in a 1 hr lesson – they needing to have a clock in front of them to STOP.

Peer tutoring can in effect reduce the need for some whole class teaching although he noted the tutor was the one who had the largest effect size on learning.

Guided learning is a bridge from the whole to the group.

I am wondering how many writing workshops have guided groups (as they do in reading workshops) in my school.

High teacher expectations can raise IQ and get better student self efficacy

Teachers with high efficacy are more likely to spend the time on planning and are more resilience

I found this point interesting and wondered if he meant classroom based planning (recording the day-to-day interactions and what they would adjust tomorrow or the following day in their instruction).

He raised Lemov’s “teach like a champion” as having some merit

These next 5 points are worth I think some staff discussion.

No opt out (don’t know answer well find out from one someone who does and I come back)Right is right (teaches often take 1/2 right answers and then complete them  but kids just hear its right and then switch off)

Format matters – getting it set out right is important

Without apology – for the student (you might find this a bit difficult) or the content is boring (well make it interesting)

Wait time research is generally 1 sec – fear of silence – how it might be filled – when there was a 3 sec wait time test scores went up and teachers asked fewer questions

I would venture the implementation is the difficult point on these ones – people usually need some form of coaching to change their practice. I would also add that we need to debrief the students if we are doing this as well.

Knowing where kids are at – assessment is for teaching – to inform teaching:

I know there is a whole lot of mind shift in this simple statement – it’s one of the big focuses at my school.

He made the final point about consistency and differentiation of instruction ought to be based on some evidentiary base.

When someone says this I usually infer they are talking about student assessment data. Vic went on talk about teachers getting feedback from the students on the various elements of the differentiated pedagogy. He mentioned the tripod project which I have subsequently looked at. It’s not being used in Australia at present so I wonder about the language used in the surveys but I definitely want to trial it in one or two of my classrooms. If any teachers have used it in Australia I would really like their feedback.

For those interested in following Vic ZBar he is on YouTube:

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