When education works to reach each individual learner, it creates opportunities to recognize and apply strengths, interests, and values while applying voice and choice to the everyday education of all learners.
What would it do to a school if we recognized and applied the strengths, interests, and values of each learner as individuals? How would this empower our learners and give them a deeper purpose in learning?
Each learner is an individual who is developing their own strengths, interests, and values and whose voice and choice should be recognized in their everyday learning and everyday assignments. When we empower learners by connecting their passions to academics, they are more likely to put an increased effort into their work which will make the learning more purposeful.
Starting by developing an understanding of the strengths, interests, and values within each learning then moving on to recognizing these qualities in each individual learner can empower learners and create a more effective learning experience.
Recognizing strengths, interests, and values, can begin with the Thrively Strengths Assessment. How powerful would it be if we used those strengths along with what we notice about each individual student and applied it to their academics? For example, if a student is interested in makeup, have them volunteer for theater and help with the play. If a student is struggling to demonstrate compassion, pair them up with a student who had this strength and give them support as they learn from each other.
When our lessons are more individualized and allow for voice and choice, they are:
- More relevant to challenges that are being faced today
- More meaningful and applicable to tasks that are immediate
- More reasons to create quality work now
- More purposeful, which will help increase retention of learning
The 4 Cs – Communication, collaboration, creativity & innovation, and thinking critically – according to P21 are skills that are essential to helping our students develop because they are necessary for tackling tasks and largert challenges. We can provide opportunities to develop these skills by connecting learners to global audiences, allowing students to create projects based on learning, and starting conversations about the world of work.
Together, we can develop a growth mindset with our learners so that when challenges arise, we have a community of school support and resources at hand that will help us work through those challenges together – creatively and collaboratively while using communication skills and critical thinking.
Developing a growth mindset to help students continue developing their strengths and recognizing the strengths in others is one way that we can create meaningful groups and help individualize our lessons so that each student sees the purpose and value in their learning.
Encourage the conversation about voice and choice to start so that everyone is aware of why individuality in learning is important. This can begin with both understanding and applying students’ strengths, interests, and values. This does not mean that each student should have a separate assignment. Instead, it means that the students should have the opportunity to demonstrate their learning in a way that is best for them – a blog, an iMovie, an interview, a digital media presentation, etc. Talking to our learners and understanding more about how they would like to demonstrate their learning can make them feel more empowered than if they are given an assignment that is created by the teacher for the teacher. We can remove limitations on learning by making sure that we give options that will best apply to each individual learner.
For more research and information on this, download our Hypedoc (a document with links embedded in the text) from participate: https://bit.ly/2pKDFcA.