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Dr Carol Ann Tomlinson

William Clay Parrish Jr. Professor Emeritus

University of Virginia, United States

Carol Tomlinson photo.jpg

Carol Ann Tomlinson is the William Clay Parrish, Jr. Professor Emeritus. During her career at the University of Virginia (UVA), Tomlinson served as chair of the Educational Leadership, Foundations, and Policy Department, and co-director of the University’s Institutes on Academic Diversity.  Prior to joining the faculty at UVA, she was a teacher in public schools for 21 years, where she taught students in high school, preschool, and middle school, and administered district programs for struggling and advanced learners. She was Virginia’s Teacher of the Year in 1974. She is also a member of the International Advisory Panel of the Principals Academy, Singapore.

Tomlinson's teaching and research at UVA centered on curriculum, differentiated instruction, and formative assessment. Her goal has always been to do work that supports classroom teachers in extending the quality and impact of their work with academically, culturally, and linguistically diverse learners. Toward that end, in addition to her scholarly publications, she has authored or co-authored over 300 books, book chapters, articles, and other educational materials for K-12 teachers and school leaders including How to Differentiate Instruction in Academically Diverse Classrooms (3rd Ed.), The Differentiated Classroom: Responding to the Needs of All Learners (2nd Ed), So Each May Soar: The Principles & Practices of Learner-Centered Classrooms, and Everybody’s Classroom: Differentiating for the Shared and Unique Needs of Diverse Learners. Her books are available in 14 languages.

Tomlinson was named Outstanding Professor at UVA’s School of Education in 2004 and received an All-University Teaching Award in 2008.  In 2023, she was ranked #12 in the Education Week Edu-Scholar Public Presence Rankings of the 200 “University-based academics who are contributing most substantially to public debates about schools and schooling,” and as the #4 voice in curriculum. She works throughout the United States and internationally with educators who seek to create classrooms that are effective in reaching diverse student populations.

Making Differentiation Transformative: How Do We Get There?

In almost every school, there are teachers who differentiate instruction effectively, those who don’t, and those who readily say, “I already do that!”  Teachers in the first group seem to see what they do as just core to teaching.  Teachers in the second group have a sense that differentiation is a set of strategies and that once a few “differentiation strategies” are in place, the job is done.  Those in the 3rd group often explain that differentiation is just “too hard”—not viable, more or less ending the conversation. There are many reasons, of course, that the three categories are common, recognizable. Three factors that often separate individuals in the three categories can be instructive for all of us to consider as you begin, for the next two days, to explore the conference theme, “Making Differentiation Doable.”  We’ll briefly examine vision, timeline, and the will to take one’s own next steps.

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