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Story | Education
14 October 2021

Personalized learning is the way forward, educators say at QF event

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Annual Teaching & Learning Forum brings together pedagogical experts from around the world

A one-size-fits-all approach to teaching is an outdated concept, with personalized learning being key to achieving excellence and happiness in the classroom, educators said during Qatar Foundation’s Teaching & Learning Forum 2021.

The one-day virtual conference, which takes place annually, saw more than 1,700 people attend. International speakers covered a diverse set of topics, in both English and Arabic, and through individual breakout rooms, encouraged collaboration, discussion, and sharing of best practices among participants.

We saw a lot of behaviors of both teachers and students – and parents as well – that exposed some of the ways in which we can’t just let things drift along

Derek Wenmoth

Derek Wenmoth spoke on the topic of Future Focused Learning, and how we can learn from the past and look to the future, while living in the present.

“When we had the pandemic across the world, and when we experienced it in New Zealand, we saw a lot of behaviors of both teachers and students – and parents as well – that exposed some of the ways in which we can’t just let things drift along for such a long time,” he said.

More than 1,700 people attended QF’s Teaching & Learning Forum 2021.

“Some schools, for example, said their students had to turn up online from 9am through to 3.30pm and just have the standard teacher talking to the class, lesson after lesson, whereas other schools that said that that is not going to be appropriate. Students are self-motivated, they’re self-actualizing, they self-manage their learning, so we are going to make sure that they can access the themes, the topics, the experiences they have, and get support, but carry on learning where they are with their parents and their local contexts.”

He explained that to live, work, and play in a future characterized by volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity, the world is going to require huge amounts of collaboration, creativity, and innovation, as well as developed communication skills, empathy, and critical thinking.

There are students who study but are not able to learn, which means that learning is more comprehensive, and teaching is more accurate

Salah Al Yafe

In a session titled The Role of Curricular and Extracurricular activities in Promoting Individual Learning, speaker Salah Al Yafe explained: “Learning and teaching are two different things. Teaching precedes learning as it is a process to prepare the student to learn and grow. There are students who study but are not able to learn, which means that learning is more comprehensive, and teaching is more accurate.

“The current generation receives ideas and information in a fast pace through the digital world, which affects their way of thinking and their routine performance. Therefore, it is necessary to direct the attention of this generation in the face of this huge amount of information in the digital world, and work to find ways to that are attractive to students behind screens and keep their attention.”

The speaker provided examples of activities that promote individual learning and that can be included in remote classrooms, such as teaching through interesting and attractive electronic games. “Teachers must have a huge number of resources that they can incorporate in the lessons, such as visiting virtual sites,” he said. “This will help to nurture their skills of thinking and analyzing and ensure their interaction and engagement in the lessons.”

As a passionate teacher, you want to support each and every child, to develop in a balanced way – finding happiness and pathways for a meaningful career

Jolande Leinenbach

Speaker Jolande Leinenbach spoke about empowering teachers to foster social inclusion in diverse classrooms, and highlighted the importance of customizing education for individual needs, because: “As a passionate teacher, you want to support each and every child, to develop in a balanced way – finding happiness and pathways for a meaningful career.”

But there are many issues facing teachers today, she said, including a “toxic positivity” culture in the classroom, where educators are expected to be “cheerful all the time”, and are not able to talk to others about their problems, which she said can lead to frustration and depression. Sickness rates in schools across the world are also high, she said, with many educators leaving their jobs and interest in teacher training courses declining.

The forum encouraged collaboration and the sharing of ideas between educators.

Other sessions held throughout the day included, Leading personalized learning by increasing student agency, Self-discovery and growth through personalized learning, and Redefining success for our students.

For more information on the Teaching & Learning Forum – organized by the Education Development Institute, part of Qatar Foundation’s Pre-University Education – please visit www.edi.qa.

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