A teacher differentiates his or her instructions by making adaptations which fit each learner's needs, styles and abilities. Educators who use differentiated instruction acknowledge that students learn at different rates, that they have different learning styles and strengths, and that they differ in their ability to think abstractly or understand complex ideas. In differentiated instruction, teachers make adaptations in one of more of the following ways:
* Content - what you want students to know and be able to do. * Process - how students are going to learn the content. * Product - how students demonstrate what they have learned * Resources - the media from which students learn (Benjamin, 2003)
The role of the teacher in a differentiated classroom is that of a planner and facilitator of learning. Teachers give students as much responsibility for their own learning as they are able to manage. Most specifically teachers :
* Assess students' needs and abilities in a variety of ways (e.g. observation, student conference, diagnostic test of a skill). * Interpret assessment data to determine students' learning needs and styles. * Design a variety of ways that students can gather information and explore ideas (listening, reading, viewing, etc.) * Develop a variety of modalities that students can express and share their own information and ideas. * Offers students choices as often as possible in their learning arrangements, in the way they will express what they know, etc. * Keep records to chart students' growth related to the curriculum objectives and concepts being developed.
In other words, teachers and students are both learners. Even though teachers may know more about the subject matter than their students, teachers are continuously learning about the diverse ways in which their students learn.