Personalized Learning in the K-12 Hospital Education Environment
There is a trend in education right now towards a type of learning that puts the child first- and it is something all hospital education programs would benefit from incorporating into their hospital classrooms. Personalized learning is sweeping into classrooms across the nation, and for a very good reason.
Personalized learning is defined as “a diverse variety of educational programs, learning experiences, instructional approaches, and academic support strategies that are intended to address the distinct learning needs, interests, aspirations, or cultural backgrounds of individual students.”
Another term for personalized learning is differentiated learning. In practice, it is tailoring instruction to the needs of individuals students, providing not only multi-tiered instruction, but instruction that is based on a student’s strengths and needs, obtained through data collection and ongoing feedback.
It is an academic concept that is growing in popularity. Many schools are using federal funding to implement programs that are based on the foundational principles of personalized learning. Some states, such as Rhode Island, are actively trying to spread successful district pilot programs to other schools throughout the state, making personalized learning the “new normal”.
If personalized learning is the new normal, then any facility with an academic component would benefit from exploring how personalized learning can improve the quality of its program.
A hospital education program, or classroom within another type of treatment facility, is the perfect setting for personalized learning. As each student-patient arrives, they bring with them their own unique academic status, goals and needs. Some may be in advance standing, some may already be struggling academically, but each has the potential to fall behind if unable to make continuous progress while receiving necessary treatment.
When a hospital classroom is designed for student success—through hiring excellent educators with strong classroom management skills and creating engaging curriculum that is flexible and responsive to the needs of individual students—then students will feel confident knowing that they are able to maintain their academic progress.
Just as there is no magic bullet or one-size-fits-all solution in regards to treatment for medical conditions, there is no one right way to educate all students. Each student is unique, has a different learning style and will respond to academic tutoring in various ways.
Therefore hospital education programs must be designed with personalized learning at the very heart of the curriculum and classroom management procedure.
By taking the time to establish a personalized learning environment, all admitted students will be able to easily integrate into the classroom, whether they arrive with mountains of schoolwork to catch up on, or join in during the middle of a class discussion.
Ideas for improving opportunities for personalized learning in the hospital environment
Here are some easy ways your education program can start to implement personalized learning:
- If appropriate for your setting, consider allowing for technology integration when possible. Computers, tablets, and smartphones all open up a wide world of learning for students by allowing access to ample resources based on student interest and need.
- Ensure students receive and work on individual assignments from their schools, in order to maintain proper academic credit.
- If students arrive without indication as to academic level or anticipate a longer stay utilizing classroom curriculum, provide opportunities for computer-based informal or game-based skill assessment to identify student’s level upon admission. This will help teachers to plan curriculum for and provide appropriate instruction at the student’s current academic skill level.
- Encourage teachers to provide choice in assignments or plan activities allowing for different paths to completion, based on student preference, that end with a similar result (i.e. Multiple project options after reading a short novel to demonstrate comprehension of text).
- Find topics of interest for each student and incorporate something that will catch their attention and keep them engaged in learning.
- Work with students to set short-term goals during their admission. Doing so will help reduce anxiety over missing school, and allow for the feeling of success.
Quality Programming for Students & Families
By incorporating personalized learning into the hospital classroom environment, students will be more likely to engage in the content and maintain or even boost academic progress.
Knowing that their teachers or tutors have their interests, aspirations, and needs at heart will help student-patients recognize the value of completing assignments while receiving treatment, and their families will appreciate the extra steps your education team has taken to craft a program designed for individual student success.
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