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Dr Carol Tomlinson

William Clay Parrish Jr. Professor Emeritus

University of Virginia, United States

Carol Tomlinson photo.jpg

Carol Ann Tomlinson is William Clay Parrish, Jr. Professor Emeritus at the University of Virginia's Curry School of Education where she served as Chair of Educational Leadership, Foundations, and Policy, and Co-Director of the University's Institutes on Academic Diversity. Prior to joining the faculty at UVa, she was a public school teacher for 21 years. During that time, she taught students in high school, preschool, and middle school and also administered programs for struggling and advanced learners. She was Virginia's Teacher of the Year in 1974.


Carol is author of over 300 books, book chapters, articles, and other educational materials including: How to Differentiate Instruction in Academically Diverse Classrooms (3rd Ed.), The Differentiated Classroom: Responding to the Needs of All Learners (2nd Ed.), Fulfilling the Promise of the Differentiated Classroom, (with Jay McTighe) Differentiating Instruction and Understanding by Design, (with Kay Brimijoin and Lane Narvaez) The Differentiated School, (with Marcia Imbeau) Leading and Managing a Differentiated Classroom, (with David Sousa) Differentiation and the Brain: How Neuroscience Supports the Learner-Friendly Classroom (2nd Ed.), (with Tonya Moon) Assessment in a Differentiated Classroom: A Guide for Student Success, and (with Mike Murphy) Leading for Differentiation: Growing Teachers who Grow kids. Her books on differentiation are available in 14 languages.


Carol was named Outstanding Professor at Curry in 2004 and received an All-University Teaching Award in 2008. In 2019, she was ranked #8 in the Education Week Edu-Scholar Public Presence Rankings of 200 "University-based academics who are contributing most substantially to public debates about schools and schooling," and as the #3 voice in Educational Psychology. She works throughout the United States and internationally with educators who seek to create classrooms that are more effective with academically diverse student populations.

The Challenges of Differentiation – and the Benefits of Addressing those Challenges

Like most truly worthwhile pursuits in life, differentiation presents challenges. Teachers who accept those challenges and work consistently toward achieving them are likely to see themselves becoming better mentors and guides for their students, more attuned to the meaning of the content they ask their students to learn, more thoughtful and informed instructional planners, more innovative problem solvers, and more aware, empathetic and responsive human beings.  Join us in this keynote session to consider some “before and after” scenarios of teacher thoughts and actions before and after they began working to teach more responsively the young people in their care.  Then consider whether the benefits of differentiation might outweigh its challenges in your work as well.

Leading and Managing a
Differentiated Classroom

Because differentiation is a student-centered approach to teaching and learning, it requires teachers to plan for individual and small group needs as well as the needs of the class as a whole.  Thus teachers need to orchestrate classroom routines that are both flexible and predictable. Among questions teachers in differentiated classrooms ask themselves are, “How can I best help my students join me in trying to create a classroom that works well for every student in it?”  “How can I plan effectively for both whole group time and individual/small group time?”  “How can I work with my students to address issues like getting help when the teacher is busy with another group?” “What do we do if someone finishes work early?”  “How can we ensure a balance of student conversation and the need for quiet and reflection?”  “What does ‘fair’ mean in a differentiated classroom?”  Join us in this session to consider these and other questions that can unlock guidelines for effective learner-centered classrooms.

Participants will:

  • Consider why learner-centered instruction requires teachers to plan and teach with the individual learner in mind.

  • Discuss with colleagues the benefits and challenges of leading students and managing routines in a differentiated classroom

  • Analyze guidelines for effectively leading learner-centered classrooms with their current work.

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