Be Part of a Vision

Tomlinson & Imbeau: Chapter 3

A Framework for Coming Together

Teachers must take the time to know each student's interests and strengths in order to give everyone opportunity to be successful in the classroom.

Teachers can use 6 key questions to know their students and provide a differentiated


Who are your learners?

Given the differences, how should I teach you?

If our classroom is going to work for all of us, what will it be like?

How can I learn more about your interests and best ways of learning?

If we have a differentiated classroom, can it be fair?

What will success in this class mean?

"It's necessary to meet students where they are in terms of readiness, interest, and learning profile in order to maximize their academic growth" (Tomlinson & Imbeau, 2010, p.44).

Who are you as learners?

Since everyone is different, students can discuss ways that could ensure all classmates are learning and getting what they need. Teachers are to provide a learning environment that is beneficial for all needs. This may include:

  • multiple learning strategies
  • student choice
  • flexible environment

Goals of the first conversation(s) are to help students:

  1. recognize that the teacher cares about them as people and wants to know them,
  2. begin to share a bit about themselves,
  3. consider the similarities and differences among classmates,
  4. think about what it would mean to have a classroom designed to work for all kinds of learners.

(Tomlinson & Imbeau, 2010, p. 46-47)

How should I teach you?

The classroom should be flexible and beneficial for all students.

  • use materials that are a good fit
  • connect ideas to personal interest
  • work at a pace that supports learning
  • learn with and from classmates
  • be an independent learner
  • learn to be a better group member or partner
  • express learning in ways that show what he/she has learned
  • explore a variety of ideas and skills

(Tomlinson & Imbeau, 2010, p. 54-56)

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What will our classroom be like?

Learning is shaped by prior experience, culture, economics, language, interests, learning preferences and support.

The teacher will get to know student by:

  • getting to know them as a person
  • taking notes on student interest
  • assessments
  • discussion with students about work
  • grading student work
  • student/parent inventories

(Tomlinson & Imbeau, 2010, p. 56-58)

How can I learn more about your starting points and interests?

As various aspects of the curriculum unfold, the teacher needs to know what the students bring with them:

  • prerequisite knowledge and skills,
  • what the understand and misunderstand,
  • degree of mastery,
  • which instructional approaches work well for them and which do not,
  • whether they can connect key ideas to personal experiences.

(Tomlinson & Imbeau, 2010, p. 58-60)

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Shift from "Fair = Identical Treatment"

To "Fair = Equity of Opportunity to Grow and Succeed"

What will success in this class mean?

Success can be defined in many ways, depending on the individual student. These attributes bear the mark of success:

  • Hard work
  • Attention to personal goals
  • Taking chances
  • Progress and growth
  • Persistence in reaching goals
  • Seeking help to grow and succeed
  • Revising work

(Tomlinson & Imbeau, 2010, p. 62-63)

Enlisting Parents and Colleagues as Part of THE Differentiated Vision

Carol Tomlinson addresses how teacher leaders can enlist support from parents and colleagues for a differentiated classroom and school environment.
Differentiation and parents

What does this chapter mean to me?

This chapter reminded me that, as a teacher, I am not an island. The students I teach go home to their families and on to other teachers. My classroom is not the only educational experience they have had or will have. We are too often guilty of teaching "to" students and do not consider who they are as people. Involving students, their parents, and my colleagues in creating a true culture of differentiation will be volumes stronger than keeping my classroom practices under lock and key. While high school students and their parents are typically not as involved as elementary and middle schools, they still want to be knowledgeable of what is going on in the classroom. I make a point to get to know my students - who they are, what they enjoy, the dreams and goals they have. However, I need to make a concerted effort to share the successes I have with differentiation and "create collaborative partnerships with families, schools, and communities to promote a positive school culture" (North Carolina Professional Teaching Standards Commission, 2009).

Why did I choose this activity?

Smore is a great tool for the classroom! It is a blending of a blog and newsletter and it lends itself to a fresh way to share information. I used Smore with my students recently and they loved it. It is easy to set up, user friendly, and allows students to use a variety of tools to get their point across. Students can be creative with the background, colors, fonts, photos, and videos, while using verbal and organizational skills to create content.


Krishna, K. (2009, January 8). Differentiation and parents [Video file]. Retrieved from

North Carolina Professional Teaching Standards Commission. (2009). Standards for graduate teacher candidates [Microsoft Word].

Tomlinson, C. A., & Imbeau, M. B. (2010). Leading and managing a differentiated classroom. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.