The CAIS Heads and Chairs Conference is an opportunity for professionals in the Canadian independent school system to gather in one place to learn from, and share with, each other.
Heather Thomas, Vice Principal, Student Learning, gave an insightful presentation on “Personalized Learning for Student Well-being.” Her session looked at how Greenwood supports teachers to personalize learning in the hopes of supporting student well-being. She began by using a ‘sweet spot’ graph to demonstrate how a student’s well-being can be impacted if work is too easy or too difficult.
So how do you find a ‘sweet spot’ to meet students at their level?
Heather looked at three different ways this can be done.
Customizing Course Structures and Schedules
At Greenwood, students have the option to take both semestered courses and full-year courses. They can also choose from a variety of unique electives that combine different levels of learning.
Using a hybrid schedule with both full-year and semestered courses can create an easier workload, allow more time between evaluations and increase information retention.
Offering more elective options is a great way to enable students to find courses that truly interest them and can help promote success, motivation and engagement. Combining levels of learning in these electives is also beneficial because students taking academic and applied courses are working together in the same class which leads to better grade cohesion.
How Teachers Personalize to Support Student Well-being
Teachers at Greenwood do a lot of personal development around how to support individual students. They also use frequent assessments to guide students on their next steps.
A unique way Greenwood teachers personalize learning is through our Adviser program. Advisers work with students to develop their resilience, practice empathy and well-being strategies, and develop literacy and personalized learning skills. Advisers meet with teachers at least once a month to review student needs and help teachers tweak assignments to meet the needs of their advisees.
Helping Students Develop Personalized Learning Skills
Advisers help students develop skills to help them personalize their learning. Advisers focus on executive functioning skills, which help students identify their own strengths and needs, manage emotions and deal with setbacks. Advisers do this by giving students scenarios, having discussions and leading coaching conversations. This is a great way to support student well-being because it promotes self-awareness, stress management and understanding of how to find resources.
Student well-being is a priority here at Greenwood and Heather’s key piece of advice for her audience was to ensure that students feel like they can succeed, understand themselves and feel good about who they are and what they can do.