Personalized Learning is possible.
As you continue reading more research and hearing about the amazing things going on in education, I would bet you’re starting to see a lot of stories and info on personalized learning. The basic philosophy is pretty simple; give students what they need, when they need it, and allow them to explore curriculum in ways that personally interest and engage them.
This idea and philosophy is simple in concept, but it can become complex when introduced to the wide variety of students in your classroom. So before you dive in, here are 3 things that should already be in place at your school, or in your classroom, to set you up for success with personalized learning!
1. Self-Paced / Mastery Learning:
I know it sounds like “another thing” at first thought, but trust me, if you build the foundations of mastery and self-paced learning in your classroom, personalization becomes a much more natural progression. More importantly, by implementing these methods you can use “time” as the first degree of intervention that all students receive. By allowing students to master content at their own pace and show mastery with multiple attempts, implementing personalized learning by adjusting to student needs and interests will be much easier.
2. Systems and Routines:
This gets said a lot, but it doesn’t ever seem to lose its importance. Creating a safe, productive learning environment is dependent on systems and routines in your classroom. In fact, I often tell teachers that it is the structure, systems, and routines that allow for the freedom and true student-centered instruction to occur. Otherwise, any student-centered initiative like personalized learning (and many others) would turn into chaos very quickly. So, as you begin to think about personalizing the learning in your classroom, start thinking about things you absolutely need to control to let that happen. This way, you can take full advantage of the benefits personalization has to offer for your learners!
3. Know Your Learners / Build Relationships
When you think about personalization in your classroom or implementing personalized learning models, knowing your students becomes one of the most important pieces. You will never be able to personalize anything for your students if you don’t know them or what they need. Building relationships will allow this to happen. Make sure you know what engages, interests, and challenges them. Ensure that you have given yourself enough data via pre-assessments and formative assessment to make sound decisions that can guide their learning. Above all else though, take the time to know who your students are are as people. This will inform your instruction and allow you to reach even the most challenging students.
Once these things are in place, you will be primed and ready to make personalized learning a reality in your classroom!