RTDI Quotes

  • Quotes That Inspire and Promote Responsive Teaching (Differentiated Instruction)

    The following quotes about Responsive Teaching/Differentiated Instruction might serve as conversation starters for students about the topic.  Selected quotes might also be turned into classroom posters to support your responsive learning environment.

    Fair is not everyone getting the same thing. Fair is everyone getting what they need. -Anonymous

    Most teachers waste their time by asking questions which are intended to discover what a pupil does not know whereas the true art of questioning has for its purpose to discover what the pupil knows or is capable of knowing. - Albert Einstein

    The road to success is always under construction. - Arnold Palmer

    Never a checklist, always complexity.  There is no step-by-step shortcut to transformation. - Michael Fullan

    The road to success is always under construction. - Arnold Palmer

    It is a curiosity of teaching that no two days are alike, but, if we are not careful, all the days can take on a deadening sameness.  We must remember that we have every opportunity to transform ourselves and our practice, just as we have every opportunity to stagnate, remaining much the same teachers we were when we began.  -  Carol Ann Tomlinson

    I am the beach
    My arms are as vast as the boundless coast 
    The tides are tumultuous, gracious, and 
    relentless against my realm.
    Aqua waters churn and swirl.
    Patiently, I wait for the ocean's treasures
    to emerge.
    I coax them with the whispers of my sands
    I promise a refuge; a respite
    Cautiously, the shells struggle to break free
    of the ruthless waters.
    They are battered, weathered, and beautiful
    Moon shells, spotted whelks,
    scalloped shells, argonauts;
    Diverse and bountiful.
    Their journeys are unmeasurable
    as they rest on my shores.
    My sands embrace
    these gifts from the sea.
      -  Sheri Wells (Teacher Leader Academy Participant) 

    If I accept you as you are, I will make you worse; however, if I treat you as though you are what you are capable of becoming, I help you become that. - Goethe

    If what we teach diminishes who we teach and erodes how we teach, we are no longer teaching. - Tomlinson, 2001

    "DI is mostly about what we do ahead of time, not how we interact or conduct the lesson at the time. There are some good aspects going on in the classroom, but that facilitation can only occur with purposeful and thoughtful planning. I can make flexible decisions because I've already prepared the resources or other avenues in anticipation of student needs. Am I always prepared for everything? No way. I get better with time, however." - Rick Wormeli, MiddleWeb List Serve Response, "Getting Started with Differentiation", 2003.

    "If I'm (the teacher) doing a good job. You (the student) will be struggling appropriately. Define what is fair for each student. Fair is when each student is struggling enough to learn something new. A fair fit for one student will be different from the fair fit of another. A simple packaging for differentiation is this: put students in situations where they don't know the answer-often. " - Dr. Carole Morreale, "Leadership For Gifted Education", IAGC graduate course, March 2000, Northwestern University.

    According to Gallagher and Ventura, the most important words of personal responsibility are as follows: 

    The 10 most important words: 
    I won't wait for others to take the first step. 
    The 9 most important words: 
    If it is to be, it's up to me. 
    The 8 most important words: 
    If not me, who? If not now, when? 
    The 7 most important words: 
    Let me take a shot at it. 
    The 6 most important words: 
    I will not pass the buck. 
    The 5 most important words: 
    You can count on me. 
    The 4 most important words: 
    It IS my job! 
    The 3 most important words: 
    Just do it! 
    The 2 most important words: 
    I will. 
    The most important word: 

    Frank Tyger said it best... 

    If there is any one secret to an enduring great teacher, it is the ability to manage continuity and change at the same time- a discipline that must be consciously practiced.   - Mark Walker - The George Washington University

    "A school for all kinds of minds will not label its students." - Dr. Mel Levine, founder of All Kinds of Minds Institute

    The success of education depends on adapting teaching to individual differences among learners.  - Yeuzheng, 4th Century BC Chinese Treatise, Xue Ji

    "Labeling is reductionistic. It oversimplifies kids. The practice overlooks their richness, their complexity, their strengths and their striking originality." - Dr. Mel Levine

    "When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves."  -Viktor Frankl

    It takes courage to
    grow up and turn out to
    be who you really are.
     - e e cummings

    The good teacher communicates a deep regard for students' lives, a regard infused with unblinking attention, respect, even awe. An engaged teacher begins with the belief that each student is unique, each the one and only who will ever trod the earth, each worthy of a certain reverence. Regard extends, importantly, to an insistence that students have access to the tools with which to negotiate and transform the world. Love for students just as they are-without any drive or advance toward a future-is false love, enervating and disabling. - Ayres, Klonsky, & Lyon, 2000. A simple justice: The challenge of small schools. New York: Teachers College Press.

    When students do not understand, I have a dangerous tendency to try to think of a better way to explain. Instead, I must find a better question.  Kennedy, 2002)

    The biggest mistake of past centuries in teaching has been to treat all children as if they were variants of the same individual and thus to feel justified in teaching them all the same subjects in the same way. - Howard Gardner

    I've come to the frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element in the classroom. It's my personal approach that creates the climate. It's my daily mood that makes the weather. As a teacher, I possess a tremendous power to make a child's life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated and a child humanized or dehumanized.  - Ginott, 1972

    It is genuinely and rightly considered a virtue in a teacher to observe accurately the differences in ability among his pupils, and to discover the direction in which the nature of each particular pupil inclines him. There is an incredible amount of variability in talent, and the forms of minds are no less varied than the forms of bodies. --Quintilian, The Ideal Education, c. 90 A.D.

    "Charlie," he said, "do you know why I gave you all that extra work?"

    I shook my head no.  That look on his face.  It made me quiet.

    "Charlie, do you know how smart you are?"

    I just shook my head no again . . .

    "Charlie, you're one of the most gifted people I have ever known.  And I don't mean in terms of my other students.  I mean in terms of anyone I've ever met.  That's why I gave you the extra work. . . I'm not trying to make you feel uncomfortable.  I just want you to know you're very special. .. and the only reason I'm telling you this is that I don't know if anyone else ever has . . . SO when the school year ends, and I'm not your teacher any more, I want you to know that if you ever need anything, or want to know more about books, or want to show me anything you write, you can always come to me as a friend.  I do consider you a friend, Charlie."

    I didn't say anything for a while because I didn't know what to say.  So finally I just said, "You're the best teacher I've ever had."  - Chbosky, S. (1999).  The perks of being a wallflower.  New York:  Pocket Books.

    It doesn't work to leap a twenty-foot chasm in two ten-foot jumps. - American Proverb

    If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer.  - Henry David Thoreau 

    There is no power for change greater than community discovering what it cares about. - Margaret J. Wheatley 

    "As adults responsible for the growth of the next generation, we should know that we are not doing our jobs unless we provide youth with opportunities to live right -- that is, with chances to do their best. A just society is one in which men and women, rich and poor, the gifted and the handicapped, have an equal opportunity to use and to increase all of their abilities, each according to her or his talents. We are still a long way away from reaching that goal, but every step we take in that direction will make life richer and more meaningful for all." - Dr. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Talented Teenagers:  The Roots of Success and Failure (1993)

    "All children can learn" does not mean "all children are the same." Furthermore, diversity is not merely about external characteristics. If we're really going to take this seriously, that means we start looking at diversity on the inside as well as diversity on the outside. Making this principle both a moral and an intellectual part of the curriculum will require taking different approaches in different schools. That is, it will require a diversity of approaches, diversity of techniques, and diversity of teaching strategies. - Douglas B. Reeves - SixPrinciples of Effective Accountability, Harvard Education Letter (7-8)

    The teacher is able to take each student on his or her own merits, to convey, not a generic hope, not a one-size-fits-all confidence, but the specific version which can only come from the student's own facts and from knowing each child well. - Theodore Sizer, The Students are Watching, Boston:  Beacon

    One person can (only) do so much. - Unknown

    "If you want to feel secure, do what you already know what to do. If you want to be a true professional and continue to grow...go to the cutting edge of your competence which means a temporary loss of security. So whenever you don't quite know what you're doing, know you're growing" - Madeline Hunter

    The good teacher communicates a deep regard for students' lives, a regard infused with unblinking attention, respect, even awe. An engaged teacher begins with the belief that each student is unique, each the one and only who will ever trod the earth, each worthy of a certain reverence. Regard extends, importantly, to an insistence that students have access to the tools with which to negotiate and transform the world. Love for students just as they are-without any drive or advance toward a future-is false love, enervating and disabling (Ayres, Klonsky, & Lyon, 2000, pp. 2-3).

    'How has the world of the child changed in the last 150 years?' … the answer is. 'It's hard to imagine any way in which it hasn't changed….they're' immersed in all kinds of stuff that was unheard of 150years ago, and yet if you look at schools today versus 100 years ago, they are more similar than dissimilar'. - Peter Senge, Director of the Center for Organizational Learning - MIT Sloan School of Management

    Differentiation at its core is changing from I to WE. - Virginia Walker (TLA Participant)

    "Choice comes in two flavors: You can decide what you want to do and then go out and find it. Or, you can notice what you are already doing, and choose that." - Tom Jackson

    "Many children struggle in schools... because the way they are being taught is the way is incompatible with the way they learn." - Peter Senge, Director of the Center for Organizational Learning - MIT Sloan School of Management

    "Schools are like airport hubs; student passengers arrive from many different backgrounds.... Their particular takeoffs into adulthood will demand different flight patterns."  - Dr. Mel Levine

    'I am always ready to learn although I do not always like being taught.' - Winston Churchill

    "The voice of the mentor becomes the internal voice of the protégé" (Lipton & Wellman, 2003)

    Children already come to us differentiated. It just makes sense that we would differentiate our instruction in response to them." (Tomlinson, 1999, p. 24)

    Build a career. Plan to be better tomorrow than today, but don't ever plan to be finished." (Tomlinson, 1999, p. vi).

    Perhaps only when people can enjoy their differences as a resource of cultural enrichment do they become truly civilized." (C.A.S.L. Publication, Kane, 2001, p. 28).

    Evidence of student understanding is revealed when student apply (transfer) knowledge in authentic contexts. (Tomlinson and McTighe, 2006, p. 5).

    Systemic change requires both leadership and administration. (Tomlinson and Allan, 2000, p. 40).

    The teacher involves her students in understanding the nature of the classroom and in making work for everyone. (Tomlinson and Edison, 2003, p. 7).

    And so we are so eager to do it right—to figure out how to personalize our teaching—to learn to differentiate instruction. (Tomlinson and Allan, 2000, p. v).

    Differentiation "is making sure that the right students get the right learning tasks at the right time. Once you have a sense of what each student holds as 'given' or 'known' and what he or she needs in order to learn, differentiation is no longer an option; it is an obvious response.  (Earl, 2003, pp. 86-87).

    A group of differentiated activities, without teachers understanding and embracing the rationale and reasoning behind them, comprise little more than a cookbook. Once the activities have all been used, teachers have no way to generate others effectively. (Tomlinson, 2003, pp.12-13).

    Learning occurs best in an environment that contains positive interpersonal relationships and interactions, comfort and order, and in which the learner feels appreciated, acknowledged, respected, and validated. (Earl, 2003, p. 39).

    Complex international influences, changing and emerging employment issues, and interpersonal and social conditions all require us to read, write, speak, and listen for a variety of purposes and then take action based on the acquisition of that understanding. (Gregory & Kuzmich, 7).

    ...four major competencies in literacy that help us weave student learning strategies into the future: 1) functional literacy; 2) content area literacy; 3) technological literacy; 4) innovative literacy. (Gregory & Kuzmich, 7).

    What is called for is not a teaching method, but a teaching repertoire. (Galloway and Labarca 1990, p. 115).

    Assessment always has more to do with helping students grow than with cataloging their mistakes. (Tomlinson, 1999, p.11).

    'If everyone is thinking alike then somebody is not thinking.' - George S Patton

    'We don't see things as they are; we see them as we are.' - Anais Nin, Diarist

    We can't be creative if we refuse to be confused. - Margaret J. Wheatley

    "What we share in common makes us human. How we differ makes us individuals. In a classroom with little or no differentiated instruction, only student similarities seem to take center stage. In a differentiated classroom, commonalities are acknowledged and built upon, and student differences become important elements in teaching and learning as well ....students have multiple options for taking in information, making sense of ideas, and expressing what they learn. In other words, a differentiated classroom provides different avenues to acquiring content, to processing or making sense of ideas, and to developing products." - Tomlinson, Carol Ann. How to Differentiate Instruction in Mixed-Ability Classrooms, Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 1995.

    "You can differentiate your instruction if your curriculum is district mandated, if it is directed by state standards, and even if learning is measured by statewide basic skills exams...It focuses on essential learning, not on 'side trips' or 'fluff'...differentiating does not mean activities that are fun for students but don't focus on significant learning." - Diane Heacox, Differentiating Instruction in the Regular Classroom, 2002.

    Quality has to be caused, not controlled. - Philip Crosby, Businessman/Author

    Good is the enemy of great.  We don't have great schools principally because we have good schools.  To go from good to great requires transcending the curse of competence. - Jim Collins

    Change produces uncertainty and uncertainty and feelings of incompetence - uncertainty because we are caused to deal with the unfamiliar, incompetence because we don't know how to do what we have never done before.  In the face of fear and feelings of incompetence, people seek security - and the greatest security they know is found in the status quo.  They therefore look for every reason they can find to justify their preference for the old and their resistance to the new. - Phil Schlecty

    It doesn't work to leap a twenty-foot chasm in two ten-foot jumps. - American Proverb

    "The best teacher is the one who NEVER forgets what it is like to be a student.  The best administrator is one who NEVER forgets what it is like to be a teacher." -Neila A. Connors

    "Leadership-Making happen that in which you believe."  -Roland Barth

    "The measure of success is not whether you have a tough problem to deal with, but whether it's the same problem you had last year."  -John Foster Dulles

    The difference between novices and experts in a field appears to be that experts tend - because of a great deal of experience in a field - to organize information into much larger chunks, while novices work with isolated bits of information.   - Benjamin Bloom

    "One doesn't discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time."  -Andre Gide

    "Children need models more than critics."  -French Proverb

    "You need chaos in our soul to give birth to a dancing star."  -Nietzsche

    "The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant.  We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift."  -Albert Einstein

    "The voyage of discovery lies not in finding new landscapes, but in having new eyes."  -Marcel Proust

    "The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn."  -Ralph Waldo Emerson

    "Where all think alike, no one thinks very much."  -Walter Lippmann

    "Courage is not the lack of fear.  It is acting in spite of it."  -Mark Twain

    IF, as a teacher   

    • I present the same lessons in the same manner that I have used in the past;
    • I seek no feedback from my students;
    • I do not analyze and evaluate their work in a manner that changes my own emphasis, repertoire, and timing;
    • I do not visit or observe other adults as they teach;
    • I do not share the work of my students with colleagues for feedback, suggestions, and critiques;
    • I do not visit other schools or attend particular workshops or seminars or read professional literature on aspects of my teaching;
    • I do not welcome visitors with experience and expertise to observe and provide feedback to me on my classroom practice;
    • I have no yearly individualized professional development plan focused on classroom changes to improve student learning; and finally,
    • I have no systemic evaluation of my teaching tied to individual, grade/department, and school wide goals,

    THEN I have absolutely no way to become better as a teacher.

            (Source: Leadership for Learning: How to Help Teachers Succeed ,  Carl Glickman) 

    "Rather than considering whether you make a difference, remember - you are the difference."  -Sandy McDaniels