When you think about how you learn best, what comes to mind? Your response most likely flies in the face of how you were taught, and the same could be said of students today. If all kids are doing the same thing, the same way, at the same time, the experience is more impersonal than personal. It might work for some, but definitely not all. Learning is a process, not an event. It is more about the experience as opposed to a single lesson, curriculum, or assessment. So, what does or can, this look and feel like? In Disruptive Thinking in Our Classrooms, I defined personalization as ALL learners getting what they need, when and where they need it, to succeed. Time is a critical element in this process.
Pacing is an essential element of personalized learning because it allows all students to thrive. By enabling students to learn at their own pace, personalization ensures that all students have the opportunity to reach their full potential. Pacing is critical when it comes to personalized pedagogy because it affects a number of factors that are essential for learning, including:
- Students learn at different paces. Not all students learn at the same rate. Some students may need more time to process information, while others may be able to learn more quickly.
- Pacing can impact engagement. When students are able to learn at their own pace, they are more likely to be invested in the learning process. This is because they are not forced to keep up with a group that is moving too quickly for them or to wait for a group that is moving too slowly.
- Pacing can affect understanding. When students are able to learn at their own pace, they are more likely to comprehend the material. This is because they have the time to process the information and to ask questions if they do not understand something.
- Pacing can increase motivation. When students see they are making progress, they are more likely to be empowered to continue learning. This is because they feel like they are in control of their own learning and capable of succeeding, which is a crucial tenant of ownership.
In addition to these reasons, pacing is also vital for personalized learning because it allows students to focus on their strengths and interests. When students can learn at their own pace, they can spend more time on concepts they are interested in while concentrating more on areas of perceived difficulty. This can help them to develop essential competencies in those areas. Overall, pace is critical to personalized learning because it allows all students to succeed.
There are a number of ways to implement pacing in personalized learning. One way is to use a variety of learning activities that allow students to learn at different levels and at different paces. For example, some students learn best by reading, while others learn best by listening to lectures or doing hands-on activities. By providing a variety of learning activities, teachers can ensure that all students have the opportunity to learn at their own pace.
Another way to implement pacing in personalized learning is to use technology. Several software programs allow teachers to create personalized learning plans for their students. These programs can track students' progress and adjust the pace of learning accordingly.
Here are some tips for pacing in personalized learning:
- Start by assessing students' individual needs. This will help you to determine how much time each student needs to learn the material. Consider common formative assessments, routine benchmarks, or the regular use of adaptive learning tools to get and then act on quality data. With useable data at their fingertips, educators can group, regroup, differentiate, target instruction, and implement Response to Intervention (RTI) with fidelity based on need.
- Implement a variety of learning activities. This will allow students to learn at different levels and at different paces. Sound pedagogical strategies such as station rotation, choice activities, playlists, and flipped lessons can be leveraged.
- Be flexible. Be willing to adjust the pace of the learning as needed. Consider using timers during tier 1 instructional activities as well as more robust pedagogical tasks.
- Provide regular feedback. This will help students to track their progress and to stay motivated.
Pace is a critical element of personalization because it allows students to exhibit more ownership of their learning. This is important because not all students learn at the same rate. Some students may need more time to process information, while others may be able to learn more quickly. By allowing students to learn at their own pace, personalized learning ensures that all students have the opportunity to succeed.
Keep these tips in mind so you can ensure that the pace of personalized learning is appropriate for your students and that they are able to learn effectively.