Basically, the individualization of teaching is not a specific didactic concept, but rather an attempt to organize a child-centered learning process. However, a modern teacher can use many of the teaching methods available to “open” the lesson and motivate the student to actively participate in the learning process. Reflections on a perfectly individualizing lesson.
Focus on competences
In order to be able to individually support and evaluate each student during the lesson, the focus should be on competences as much as on the content of the learning. Competences are the link between knowledge and skills. Competences make it possible to deal with tasks and situations that require effective reference to the possessed knowledge.
“Opening” the lesson
Open forms of teaching can support the individualization of teaching at an organizational level. The most recommendable forms are: station method, weekly plan, work centers, portfolio method, and learning by objectives. This ‘opening’ of the lesson means giving students the freedom to make choices in the following areas:
The student decides when and in what sequence to complete certain tasks. This allows the individual pace of learning to be taken into account. Children move smoothly from task to task, and each of them spends exactly as much time on the task as needed.
How much? (Quantity)
The student decides how many tasks he will perform. Also thanks to this, the individual pace of work is taken into account and the child learns to realistically assess his own abilities.
How much? (Quality)
The student decides on the level of difficulty or the length of the task (e.g. when writing an essay).
The student decides on the form of the task. This requires introducing children to various techniques (working out, recording, performing, mind map) beforehand so that they can make their own choices.
With who? (Social form)
The student decides whether to do the task alone, in pairs or in a group. He can also independently choose specific people with whom he wants to cooperate on the task.
The student decides where in the class he wants to complete the task. It requires permission to move freely around the classroom, the ability to work at the desk or on the floor (e.g. on a roll-up rug, as in Montessori classes).
The teacher decides how much he will “open” his lesson and how much freedom of choice he will give his students.
New roles of teacher and student
Effective individualization of teaching in the classroom requires a new approach to the role of the teacher and the student in the learning process. The teacher ceases to be in the center of the action, handing over the initiative and responsibility for learning to the students.
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- He trusts the student
- Organizes and moderates
- It accompanies and supports the independent learning of each student
- It allows for mistakes and student’s independent experimentation in reaching knowledge
- It guides the student through selected exercises and goals
- Diagnoses and gives feedback Takes responsibility for own learning process
- It becomes active
- He independently plans, works and creates
- Cooperates in a group, learns from others
- He applies his knowledge in practice and solves more complex tasks
- Monitors own learning progress
- He evaluates himself against the set goals
Student’s individual work
Individual work time, the so-called own work is very important because the learner is responsible for what and at what time he learns. Organized individual work is mainly used to consolidate and practice the issues introduced in the lesson, and not to search for new knowledge. The introduction of individual work allows the teacher to plan tasks corresponding to the diverse level of students’ skills in the class (easier and more difficult tasks).
The main principles of individual work:
- Children take care of order and materials
- Children choose a workplace (table, rug on the floor)
- Children choose the material and task they want to do
- The number of children allowed to work together is limited by the teacher
- The children whisper to each other and move quietly around the room
- Children complete the task they have undertaken
- The teacher expects the children to plan their work responsibly
- The class ends individual work with a short summary.
There are various forms that enable a student to learn individually:
- After completing the compulsory tasks in the class, the student can choose any didactic material or an educational game from the mathematics corner (instead of disturbing, he or she does something useful)
- Everyday lessons start with a short own work (approx. 30-60 minutes)
- Time for own work twice a week (approx. 60-120 minutes)
- Own work is part of the so-called weekly plan
- Own work is part of the so-called station methods
- Own work is part of an ongoing project
Introducing individual work requires a strategy of small steps and is not easy. Preparing weekly plans means additional preparation for the lesson for the teacher. However, this effort is worth taking, as the advantages of individual work are vast:
- Tasks may vary the level of difficulty
- Tasks can vary the form of social work
- Individual work creates the possibility of introducing more diverse teaching aids at a cheaper cost (single sets are enough)
- Students learn to plan their work and take responsibility for their learning
- The teacher has more time during the lesson to observe and work with the individual student