What does it mean to personalize learning in an IB school?

What does it mean to personalize learning in an IB school?

Personalized learning has been around for decades and will continue to be a major part of education. People are increasingly looking for ways to make learning more purposeful and specific to each learner. Every child is unique as each one is influenced by innumerable external as well as genetic factors. Usually, most schools would follow one curriculum and implement the same set of learning methodologies for the entire batch. However, when schools follow a one-size-fits-all teaching technique, they would invariably miss out on the fact that every student has his own learning capabilities or interests. This is where a personalized learning approach can effectively enhance and transform the learning experience in an IB curriculum framework.

What is personalized learning?
When we individualize learning we are only adjusting the pace of learning while in differentiated learning we adjust the content, process and product. On the other hand, personalized learning is a broader umbrella term it not only means adjusting, pace, content, product and process but also leveraging students’ interests and experiences. Personalized learning begins with giving individual attention to students so as to assess or analyze their likes, strengths, areas of improvement and progress at a deeper level. This innovative interest-based teaching methodology adopted by the International Baccalaureate curriculum evaluates a student’s performance based on their motivation, habits of the mind and heart, behavior and exhibition of achievement. After closely analyzing a student’s potential and inborn skills, the faculty then constructs a curriculum with hand-picked activities and a work-based learning approach.

Benefits of personalized learning
Deeper understanding of subjects
Since the IB curriculum and activities are personalized as per individual likes and interests, each student ultimately enjoys the complete process of learning. He/she becomes curious to learn more which makes it easier to teach a wide range of concepts in a short period of time.

Higher engagement
A personalized learning experience increases the engagement level between students and teachers as each student takes part in unique activities and projects based on their interests. This method encourages each student at an IB School to explore and discover new aspects of every subject they learn.
Better knowledge retention
The IB curriculum adopts an experiential learning process which enhances the grasping power of students. Unlike other boards where students focus only on academics and theoretical knowledge, personalized teaching techniques used in IB schools makes it easier for students to remember the concepts that they learn more naturally.

Better outcomes
The personalized learning experience helps in laying a strong foundation for students to leap into a bright future. As the students relate with the process and enjoy the journey, they become self-motivated and curious to learn more. By offering practical knowledge of various subjects after analyzing personal capabilities, the International Baccalaureate curriculum always aims to make students confident, self-aware and future-ready.
Identifying a child’s true potential is imperative for their growth in career and life. Personalized Learning at IB schools keeps children motivated to hone their talent and work on their weaknesses, thus opening the door to limitless opportunities.

How well does personalized learning work in ‘boutique schools’?
In his book The Big Picture, Dennis Littky bats for small schools and to quote him:
• ‘The best way to create a positive school culture, with supportive, nurturing atmosphere, is to start by creating a small school.
• Research has shown over and over again that students in small schools perform better in math and science, have better attitudes towards learning ,better attendance – the list goes on and on …..
• Better self-concept, sense of belonging, interpersonal skills and higher rate of parental involvement
• Finally research shows that small schools safer and easier to secure
• In small schools the learning needs of students, not the organizational needs of the school, drive school operations – Kathleen Cotton
• The US Dept of Education is now giving more money to break down big schools into small schools ….

But the question is so obvious, why don’t we just start build small schools in the first place?’
What are the basics of a truly personalized school?
• A truly personalized school is ultimately flexible.
• One size never fits all. One size fits one.
• Diversity is truly respected and celebrated.
• Attention in such schools balances each student’s sense that he or she is an individual and a member of a community.
• Trust kids enough to allow them to help direct their own learning
• THIS IS DEVELOPING STUDENT AGENCY a term which the IB uses in its PYP programme…where we give learners choice, voice and ownership over their learning !

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