Education is a complex process of getting teachers and students involved in a journey of self-discovery and personal growth to benefit everyone involved. To get the best of this experience, teachers have to pass over some of the responsibilities regarding instruction and assessment to students. This allows them to become the main characters in this process — a different one, that is — with various background knowledge, learning pace, and level of motivation.
Last time I introduced you to the first three steps of personalized instruction, focused on the teacher: knowing your role in the classroom, which shifted towards becoming more of a coach or a concierge, knowing your students and their individuality and knowing you are not alone, as you can count on peers for support and advice.
Now we are going to focus on three more steps to personalized instruction that all your students could benefit from.
3 Pillars of personalized instruction
People learn by doing and by mimicking others. In this respect, learning has to be interactive to last. Furthermore, taking a more flexible approach towards teaching, we need to recognize we should let go of the tight strings with which we used to keep everything under our control and share responsibilities and decisions with our students regarding learning and assessment.
These next three aspects of personalization will transform the way you teach and will create the perfect learning conditions for all your students.
An interactive learning environment
To be able to really speak about an interactive learning environment we should have in mind a reduced number of students in a class. Since this is not always possible, you should nurture student interaction in small groups. This allows for thoughtful conversation among peers and meaningful interaction with the teachers.
Moreover, creating a learning environment that promotes the development of the 4 Cs will ensure authentic student achievement. In this regard, teachers could see better results if class time is doubled by online time.
Blended learning is a modern approach to teaching that fosters the development of communication, collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking.
Setting the scene for online contribution to students' learning experience will create opportunities for debates on different topics, will make room for collaboration in pairs or teams for various assignments, even with students from other parts of the world, and will foster critical thinking when questioning opinions and content both online and offline.
The online environment makes everything easy for students due to the freedom they may feel of not having peers watch their every move and also of having the possibility of expressing themselves in different ways.
A similar type of freedom can be achieved by having a flexible seating environment that allows students to move freely and express themselves creatively. This flexible setting is the perfect environment for interactive learning and if you want to have the best outcome, get students involved in arranging the furniture so that it suits them and their needs.
A flexible learning environment
Speaking about flexible learning and teaching environments, as instructors, we should show a lot of flexibility towards our students too. You have to consider the fact that students have individual learning preferences, abilities, and pace. It's up to the teacher to give them multiple options to acquire knowledge and alternatives to prove it.
When you include the online environment in your everyday teaching you will benefit from an effective method that makes differentiation in terms of content and assessment a reality. In addition, by customizing instructional delivery you'll be able to reach each student and provide personalized instruction.
One thing is necessary, though. You need to let go of the need to control everything and give your students voice and choice to be able to manifest agency over their own learning with due motivation and engagement. By using an LMS, for instance, you could offer students choice over their learning schedule and a new voice online.
In our educational system, we have been taught to teach to standards without considering the actual applicability of the acquired knowledge in real life.
Having your students solve real-life problems motivates and engages them in the learning process, which leaves them with meaningful knowledge — useful outside the classroom walls, all the way into their future careers.
The 4 Cs are present in the evaluation process also in close connection to real-life situations. By giving students a task that requires creativity will teach them the importance of copyright and the fulfillment of originality.
Communication and collaboration can mimic real-life contexts that resonate with your students' interests. Nevertheless, creative thinking is the closest to authentic situations there is because it determines students to analyze various contexts and decide on their own, taking into account different variables, what the answers, solutions, or steps to take are in any given scenario.
Read more: 9 Characteristics of authentic learning
Instruction is now a more complex process, with a lot of aspects to consider, that puts us in the position to plan and deliver content, create and assess tasks in various ways to cater to students as individuals, all while nurturing a learning environment that implies interactivity and flexibility.
Every effort teachers have to make in the process is rewarded with better results, more motivation, and real engagement from students in their own personal growth and development.