Last night I painted my nails, something I rarely ever did as a teen or young adult. But I have a special occasion to attend today, and I wanted to look extra nice. I’m a bit clumsy, so a couple of months ago I got liquid latex. What you do is, you put the liquid latex around your nail and let dry before you paint. Then, when I inevitably color outside the lines, I peel the latex off and voilà! My nail polish is only exactly where it should be. It’s like bowling bumpers, but for beauty.
This is one way I differentiate some skill or ability I use as an adult. It’s far from the only one. I also talk myself through difficult tasks when possible, especially when I’m nervous. (This was how I passed my driver’s test on the third try; it was the suggestion of my tester who had just used the strategy herself on her motorcycle test.)
I also differentiate for other adults in ways that are easily incorporated into my routines. I write messages on the dry erase board to help my husband remember things, because a text or verbal reminder usually isn’t enough. I bring extra devices to the trivia night I host for people who either don’t have devices that get online, or for people who do have such devices but struggle to use them effectively during the time limit.
Differentiation doesn’t have to be a big deal; over time it might even become a habit. And better, for the teacher, is that over time it could become the student’s responsibility more than any adult’s. I mean, if the point is that students do what they need for themselves to succeed, it makes sense that they take it on so they can carry it with them through life, adapting where and when it’s called for.