Benefits of a 1:1 Classroom
14 APRIL 2015 | VANESSA ADAMS
Providing individualized learning in a 1:1 student-teacher ratio is hardly a new idea, but this type of school model is changing quickly as our worldview concerning education evolves. Though it is an overused phrase, “teaching to the middle” of a group of students with widely varying ability levels (which is true of any classroom) has been proven to be quite ineffective for most children. Fast-paced learners often grow complacent or inattentive, while students needing more individualized consideration can be left feeling overwhelmed or discouraged. These are often the students who will “act out” or engage in problematic behaviors.
It is logical that a student will likely perform best when his or her instruction is intentionally tailored for a specific readiness level, speed of presentation, learning style, and set of personal interests. When teachers and students are provided with such an environment, several ideal components to support quality learning fall naturally into place. Purposefully planned supports can allow a student who struggles with distractibility, uneven academic skills, or other challenges to master content that was too difficult in more traditional settings. The same supports can allow advanced students to work at a more productive, efficient pace that is simply not possible in a larger group setting.
Though the professional student-teacher relationship remains intact, the one-on-one setting is much less formal and intimidating for students. What was previously a need to raise a hand, be called upon, and ask a question is now part of a much more relaxed interaction between teacher and student. Questions are natural and conversational as the lesson progresses. Along with that close proximity comes very little chance for a student’s confusion to be overlooked–the teacher is able to check for solid understanding every few moments as needed.
Individualized classes also lend themselves to pacing of work that is appropriate for one student. Given that all children have unique learning profiles and needs, some students will want to work quickly through accelerated material. Others will need to have more guidance, modeling, and practice as new skills are developed–which means more time can be taken to progress through concepts with a higher level of confidence. Teachers have the freedom to accommodate specialized learning needs, including differentiating how a student demonstrates mastery, reviews information, studies, and takes tests. Project-based learning (as opposed to formal teacher-led lectures) is often the norm rather than the exception.
Lastly, a 1:1 learning environment affords additional time for continually reinforcing the hidden (but crucial) skills our students must acquire in order to truly utilize learning out in the “real world”–confident social skills, study skills, memory-based strategies where new information is stored and needs to be remembered later, and so on. As with all education at all levels, the ultimate goal remains the same: to help the student be ready to leave the relatively safe space of the initial instruction and act as a proactive, independent learner!