testing can cause teachers to feel overloaded. Teachers often perceive that they are asked to learn and apply many different skills simultaneously. They feel discouraged if they sense that differentiated classrooms are “just one more thing to do (Tomlinson, 1999).”
Teachers must be effective in developing many types of intelligence, not just one. Tomlinson concurs, “A hallmark of excellent teachers is their capacity to see and serve individuals rather than batches of children.” However, the reality remains that putting differentiated instruction into practice is not as simple as it seems. It can take teachers many years to make differentiated instruction part of the everyday routine. To train a whole school to differentiate instruction takes years of practice. Even Tomlinson estimates that differentiation can take as long as seven to ten years (Hess, 1999).
Moreover, shrinking school budgets means that funds for materials and resources, as well as professional development, may be severely limited. Funding should be set aside to provide time and resources for continuous teacher training and for teachers to work collaboratively.
When asked if there are any negatives to differentiated instruction, Dr. Louise Spear-Swerling, a strong supporter of differentiation asserts, “I don’t think there are any negatives if it is done well. I think it’s very challenging to do it well.” Therefore, differentiated instruction may be something a teacher does once in a great while because it is difficult to make it become a way of life in the classroom.
There is a Peanuts comic in which Charlie Brown is talking with Lucy. In it, he says, “My teacher thinks that teaching is just like bowling; you aim down the middle and try to hit as many as you can.” Lucy replies, “She must not be a very good bowler.” In conclusion, although teachers can see the benefits of meeting students where they are and teaching them in ways that best enable them to learn, the actuality is that the majority of teachers still teach in much the same way that Charlie Brown’s teacher did - by aiming down the middle.