Book Review

Differentiation Is an Expectation

A School Leader’s Guide to Building a Culture of Differentiation

by Kimberly Kappler Hewitt and Daniel K. Weckstein, Eye on Education, Larchmont, N.Y., 2011, 135 pp., $34.95 softcover

 

In Differentiation Is an Expectation: A School Leader’s Guide to Building a Culture of Differentiation, Kimberly Kappler Hewitt and Daniel K. Weckstein deliver an enjoyable account of their district’s experience with systemic change.

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Hewitt is an assistant professor of educational leadership and cultural foundations at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and Weckstein is a junior high school principal in the Oakwood City Schools in Dayton, Ohio. They offer background research and guidance for the leader who is incorporating differentiated instruction.

The guide begins with the importance of setting a foundation of core district values and establishing organizational goals. Grounded in reality, the authors quote teachers and provide strategies for working with skeptics.

The book also provides a comprehensive look at how to build a positive culture within a district in its chapters on communication with stakeholders and planning staffing to support the evolving culture.

Carol Ann Tomlinson’s “light and fire” metaphor is especially powerful in igniting the need for teachers to change.

The chapter on assessment, instruction, materials and technology discusses tools that support differentiation. One notable oversight, however, is the Response to Intervention process. RtI leverages differentiation in probably one of the most concrete ways for a teacher to develop ownership and facility. It would have been a handy example.

Overall, though, Differentiation Is an Expectation is a great resource for administrators who wish to develop a student-centered district. The dynamics of a change process are complex, and the guide provides key strategies to promote a culture of differentiation.

Reviewed by Marilyn King, assistant superintendent, Bozeman Public Schools, Bozeman, Mont.