Every individual is different. Therefore a one-size-fits-all learning approach can put some students at a disadvantage. Fortunately, for SPARK Schools’ pupils’ learning is personalised to suit each learner’s individual needs. This learning approach allows educators to customise learning to suit each students learning pace and style of learning.
SPARK Schools Head of High School Curriculum and Assessment, Kathryn Garden, says to help every learner to progress from where they are, whether they are struggling or doing well, it is imperative to meet them as individuals in their learning journey.
“We do personalised learning because each scholar: 1) develops at a different rate, 2) comes from a different academic, social and emotional background, and 3) has a unique character with preferences for the way they like to learn,” she says.
To help drive learner achievement, the personalised learning approach uses these four pillars: flexible content tools, targeted instruction, student reflection and ownership, and lastly, data-driven decisions.
Personalised learning considers each learner’s strengths, weaknesses and skill sets, which means that educators have to get to know each student in their classroom. This can be done by gathering information about the learner throughout their school day.
“The data could be quantitative, from tools such as tests or formative assessments, or qualitative, gathered through questioning and observation,” Garden explains.
She adds that whether the data is quantitative or qualitative, it has to be documented and scrutinised.
The great thing about gathering this kind of data is that teachers will get insights that inform their decisions when personalising learning for each learner.
This is even more important for schools with more prominent size classrooms as teachers might not be able to get to know each learner without the data.
There are many benefits to personalised learning, but the most important is that students can learn at a pace that suits them, which alleviates the pressure on them. Because of this, learners will thrive and be encouraged to learn.
“Imagine a classroom where there is no focus on the individual: the teacher ‘talks at’ students and does not consider what they know and don’t know,” Garden says.
A classroom environment where every learner is seen as an individual and catered to drives student achievement.
As a parent, it can be frustrating when you are trying to help your child with their work, and they are struggling. Personalised learning can be used at home by parents, especially when a child is faced with learning difficulties.
“Parents need to understand that it doesn’t matter where their child is in their learning journey; they can progress and grow from where they are,” she says.
She further explains that a parent’s most crucial part of personalised learning is developing student ownership and reflection. This can be done by asking precise questions to engage the child to think about their progress.
While not all schools in South Africa have adopted the personalised learning approach, teachers and parents can still use it to get the best out of students.
If you’d like to know about the SPARK Schools learning model, click here.