Personalizing Student Support


Personalizing Student Support

Support for students is crucial for their growth. More importantly, providing personalized support means that the educator or facilitator of learning sees each student as an individual and makes a plan to meet each one at his or her point of need.

Seemingly more than ever, the focus on the student, the whole student, and nothing but the student is an afterthought. Many other variables mask what is most important. As a result, this lack of student support opens the door to lack of student persistence and in some cases, a rise in behavioral issues, not to mention the meaningful learning opportunities that are lost.

So how do we, as educators and as participants in education process support the most important stakeholders, the students? The truth is that personalized student support, by nature of the name can take on many forms.

Diagnosing the support a student needs

First and foremost, support cannot be of value until you are able to know the type of support that a student needs. Thus, developing a rapport with students is step number one.

It has been said often that “Students don’t care how much you know, unless they know how much you care.” Caring goes a long way and often provides a certain motivation for students to not only pursue learning, but it also allows you to aid them along that path.

A classroom tends to be much like a melting pot of learners. As such, not all students ingest learning in the same way. We have the visual learners, the auditory learners and the hands-on type of learner, and perhaps even those that embrace all types of learning. What does this mean? Well personalized student support might first indicate a need to approach a topic from a variety of angles.

In addition, a crucial component of supporting students stems from the relationships and bonds that are made with students. For example, consider the following three hypothetical students:

  • Student A is a hard-working student, but lacks organization.
  • Student B is behind as far as functioning on grade level, but is willing to learn.
  • Student C is excelling in every area and often learns at a faster rate than his or her peers.

These scenarios reflect three different individuals who might receive support in three different ways. Student A needs help with organization and that might include advanced organizers, assistance with note-taking and a checklist or consistent routine in order to build proper habits.

Student B needs remedial help, or perhaps a stronger foundation in skills not acquired in a previous grade level, as well as patience in order for him or her to attain grade level status.

Student C needs enrichment, and ways to go beyond the normal curriculum. Student C would benefit from independent studies or challenges that may include stimulating topics within project-based or problem-based learning.

Using technology to support student learning

One platform that has been designed to support students in these differentiated ways is Fresh Grade. Not only does it provide a way for students to document and track learning experiences, they are also able to demonstrate their learning in a variety of ways. Perhaps more importantly, there are also opportunities for students to look back and reflect on their learning.

In addition, the Fresh Grade platform allows students to contribute ideas, thoughts, pictures, videos, and audio to showcase their individual learning experience. These contributions will naturally differ greatly depending on the student.

From a tutoring standpoint, the same platform (or others like it) could be ways to promote opportunities for both remediation and accountability between tutoring sessions. After all, promoting productive support experiences during tutoring sessions is only half the battle when it comes to supporting student growth; time spent working between sessions can be just as important. Structuring this experience with a differentiated, technologically-infused tool can help improve student growth and, in turn, help grow your tutoring business.

Having now been a user of the platform for two years, I have experienced immense success in the sense that parents have a much better handle on what is happening with their children’s learning. In turn, this means parents are better able to assist at home. Parent-student-teacher communication has improved greatly.

Make it personal

All in all, students’ needs vary, and before academic needs can be met, Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is important to consider. One may need a hug, while another may benefit from checking in with you throughout the day. Others may lack motivation or active parental involvement. Thus it is important to learn about their stories, their likes, their dislikes, their learning styles, their dreams, and their desires to ensure that there is room to personalize their learning and provide support along their pathways to success.

About Dene G

Dene Gainey is an educator and lifelong learner from Orlando, FL with a bachelor of Science in Elementary Education (University of Central FL) and a Masters of Education in Instructional Technology (American Intercontinental University) and a current doctoral student. Currently with eleven years of teaching experience, Dene functions in various capacities including: English-Language Arts Teacher, Technology Teacher and Gifted Teacher. Dene has a passion for celebrating diversity, building community, project-based and problem-based learning, as well as the student-driven classroom. As an educator, Dene feels it is his niche to build bridges and fill gaps, not to mention give meaning to learning experiences and use all of his skills and talents as a means to motivate students to be “more.” As a veteran of the United States Air Force, a singer and songwriter, actor, and author, Dene incorporates various techniques in the classroom to make it inviting for students. He continues to write via his educator blog and will continue to write collaboratively as well as pursue personal writing projects in the near future.