How would you take this?

Discussion in 'Job Seekers' started by curiouslystrong, Aug 8, 2012.

  1. curiouslystrong

    curiouslystrong Companion

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    Aug 8, 2012

    During my interview today, I was asked a question on differentiation. I know that I do differentiate, and I really work hard to do it well, but I've had some trouble articulating exactly how I do it in past interviews. Today I did some research in order to come up with a more refined answer, and in my response I mentioned offering choice in topics/presentation format, checking in with students individually, and making sure that I get to know my students well so that I can grade student work on an individualized basis. I also said that one thing I don't do when differentiating is provide different students with different assignments or levels of questions, as I believe that that communicates low expectations, and I think that I would be doing a disservice to my students if I didn't give all of them the opportunity to respond to high-level questions.

    After I responded, the P asked me if I'd done any reading on the subject of differentiation. I said that I had done some, and he then asked if I was familiar with the names of any "experts" on the subject. I admitted that I was more familiar with concepts than names, but that if I would probably be able to recognize names of important figures if I saw or heard them mentioned somewhere. The P then recommended the works of Carol Ann Tomlinson to me.

    I've since purchased one of her books and and downloaded it to my Kindle - it sounded like a great resource, and I'm happy to have it. However, I'm not quite sure how to take the comment the P made to me. Did he suggest Tomlinson's works because he thought I might find them interesting and helpful, or does that kind of suggestion indicate that he thought my response was somehow lacking? How would you interpret his remark? (And if anyone has any opinions on Tomlinson's ideas, I'd certainly be interested in hearing them as well!) Thanks! :)
     
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  3. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    Aug 8, 2012

    How do Tomlinson's ideas mess with your response in the interview?
     
  4. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    Aug 8, 2012

    I don't know how I would take this. I would however mention in your thank you card/email to him that you picked up her book.
     
  5. geoteacher

    geoteacher Devotee

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    Aug 8, 2012

    Carol Amm Tomlinson is one of the leading authorities on differentiation. She does, however, tend to be a bit of a dry read. There are others who present the information in a more reader-friendly manner. I wouldn't know how to take the question either, but I do remember something similar happening to me back in the day when Madeline Hunter was the big name in education. I just drew a blank on a question that I should have been able to answer with ease!
     
  6. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Aug 8, 2012

    Dear principal,
    Thank you for the opportunity to meet today to discuss how my skills are a fit for your schools needs...blah blah blah I was particularly excited by our conversation about differentiated instruction. I consider this one of my strengths as I'm always looking for ways to faciltate learning at my students' readiness levels. Upon returning home, I did some further reading on Tomlinson's work. In many ways, her philosophies on differentiated instruction match with my classroom practices. I am excited at the possibility of putting these practices and strategies into action at XYZ School. I look forward to hearing from you soon.
     
  7. curiouslystrong

    curiouslystrong Companion

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    Aug 8, 2012

    Thanks for your replies, everyone - from what I've seen of Tomlinson's ideas, I feel like what she has to say is pretty much in line with my own philosophy. I haven't really gotten the opportunity to look deep enough to make a very thorough assessment, but I haven't found anything about her philosophy that I object to, either. I definitely intended to mention that I'd followed up on the suggestion to look into Tomlinson in my thank you email, which I just sent out. The example you provided was extremely helpful, czacza - thank you! :)

    I'm really anxious to find out if I'll get invited back for a second round interview tomorrow (they're being held Friday) - I absolutely loved this school and everything about it. I know better than to get my hopes up too much, though...I'll just have to wait and see, I guess.
     
  8. HOPE-fulTeacher

    HOPE-fulTeacher Comrade

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    Aug 9, 2012

    Well.....when I was interviewing, I always hoped that it would be more like a conversation about education between the interviewers and myself. (Full disclosure: That was to make me less nervous!) :p

    While it does sound a little like he was pressing to find out if you were just using "differentiating" as a buzzword or if you actually knew your stuff, it came across to me that the book recommendation was after he realized that you really were interested and knew a lot about it, and he was just recommending another resource to you...professional to professional. I'd take it as a good sign!

    Good luck! I hope you get the job! :)

    (Oh, and PS- I admit I haven't read up on Tomlinson and her philosophy, but we did receive an elementary newsletter over the summer from our Curric & Instruction person with a recommendation to read her book. So, it's something that my district supports and something I will most likely be reading in the future!)
     
  9. Mathemagician

    Mathemagician Groupie

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    Aug 9, 2012

    I'm not a Tomlinson fan. I encourage reading Mike Schmoker's criticism of Tomlinson in accompaniment with that book.
     
  10. SCTeachInTX

    SCTeachInTX Fanatic

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    I think the problem came when you said that you would not change your questioning styles. If you look at Marzano and Bloom's higher level questioning, you do have to scaffold students to higher levels of thinking through questioning. However, you cannot expect a student answering at the lowest level of Bloom's to fully understand a question from the highest level. We have to scaffold our students and give them opportunities to reach those higher levels. The reasoning is that just because you ask questions at the highest levels of thinking does not mean that your responses from students will be true higher levels of responses. So, we differentiate our questioning to help students climb that questioning/thinking latter. Does that make sense? It is early... so it might not. Ha Ha.
     
  11. curiouslystrong

    curiouslystrong Companion

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    Aug 9, 2012

    Mathemagician - I will definitely look into Schmoker as well. Thanks!

    Yeah - that was sort of the impression I got. I guess I probably should have addressed scaffolding questioning a bit more in my response. While I don't ask different students different questions, I do check-in with students often. If students have difficulty understanding/responding to a high-level question, then we'll start at a lower level of Bloom's and build up to a point where they can consider and respond to the higher level question.

    For example, let's say I ask students to respond to the question "Were the Crusades justifiable? Why or why not?" By the time I asked this question, I would have already given them plenty of background information - information that gives a Christian perspective and a Muslim perspective - and given them the opportunity to build their own picture of what the Crusades were, how they happened, what the consequences were (from "mass civilian death" to "stimulated progress in Medieval Europe"). Ultimately, the question asks students to make a judgment and to back up that judgment with evidence. "Evaluation" is right near the top of Bloom's pyramid, so it's a "high-level" question.

    I guess what I was trying to say in my response is, I don't think that I'm going to be doing any of my students any good if I say, hey, wait, you're low-level students, so how about you just explain the events of the Crusades to me, or identify their consequences. We would have already done this in class to build up to the high-level question. Still, if after checking-in with a student I see that they're struggling with the question, I can enable them to respond to the high-level question by guiding them through what we've already covered. For example, "We made a list identifying some of the reasons that the Crusaders took up arms against Muslims. Which of them do you think are good reasons? Which do you think are bad reasons?" I think that all students need to be given the opportunity to respond to high-level questions so that they can grow as thinkers. They can respond to a question like this with varying degrees of thoroughness depending on their readiness level, but regardless, students are working to build their thought processes and critical thinking skills. It's important to me not only that that all students get that opportunity, but they also get the message that they are capable of responding to high-level questions. Does that make sense? I'm trying to say that I try to communicate high expectations for all students, and I scaffold instruction individually or with small groups so that every student is able to meet or exceed those expectations.
     
  12. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    Aug 9, 2012


    This. :)
     

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