Individualizing education means different things to different people, as even the term implies. The achievement of a specially-tailored educational experience for each student is a primary goal of many teachers, but how to go about providing this experience is a matter of debate. However, based on commentary from teachers who have shared their Internet teaching experiences with us, we have identified several recurring themes and rules of thumb that have been helpful for them.
With this in mind, we have developed the
following list of helpful tips and techniques for teachers using the Internet to help individualize student learning experiences:
- Whenever possible, allow the students to participate in decisions about their education. The student can become a resource in helping the teacher see what, within reason, would be educationally valuable for them. Students who learn early on to voice their opinions and who feel that they are being heard may develop a lifelong habit of taking an active interest in their own learning.
- Maintain an open mind when considering topics or activities. Teachers may have developed a strict definition of what constitutes a lesson, unknowingly restricting opportunities for helping "hard-to-reach" or typically uninterested children.
- Consider the strengths and weaknesses of each student along with the different ways students learn. Presenting a lesson in multiple formats (visually, verbally, through action, etc.) provides more students with ways to to understand the materials. Helping students recognize their own limitations can provide them with insight into methods for improvement.
- Be prepared to make and learn from your own mistakes. This is a tip that any teacher could benefit from, but the very nature of the attempt to individualize instruction almost guarantees that slips will occur, because there will be little in the way of format or organization that carries over uniformly. Use these slips to improve the individualization process.
- Consider having students use portfolios to document and showcase their work. The process involved in helping students create products in which to take pride helps them to become more self-directed. Portfolios will be worth pointing to when parents or administrators visit the classroom.
- Educate parents about your attempts to individualize. This will serve a twofold purpose: 1) gaining parental support for the endeavor and 2) tapping into parents' knowledge about their child's needs so as to strengthen the commitment to and capability of truly individualizing education.
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