Individualized Instruction

Why individualization?

Instruction designed for the “average learner” leaves many students behind. Teachers are rarely supported to design lessons that meet all students’ needs.

All brains are different.

Every human brain is unique and “wired” differently. Conditions such as ADHD and autism aren’t “abnormal”, and students who learn faster are not “gifted.” All students benefit from teachers paying attention to their unique learning needs.

Integration is not the same as inclusion.

A single classroom may contain students who are currently above and below grade level, English Language Learners, and students with disabilities.

Research has shown that students with disabilities learn the most when they are taught in inclusive settings with access to key resources: grade-level learning, strong instruction, and teachers with high expectations.

True inclusion requires more than simply integrating our marginalized students into regular education. When students with disabilities, or English Language Learners, are placed into regular education classrooms without accompanying support, they’re not being set up to succeed.

Teachers need to be supported with the knowledge and tools to effectively meet the learning needs of all students.

Learning loss is common.

Data shows that most kids backslide over the summer, and more each year as they move from elementary into middle school:


Reading gains lost in a single summer


Math gains lost in a single summer

The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the existing inequities for Black, Indigenous, and students of color, compounding the impact of structural racism, and we can expect these achievement gaps to grow:

-10 months

Learning gains lost by Black students

-9 months

Learning gains lost by Hispanic students

-12 months

Learning gains lost by students from low-income households

We know that learning acceleration (focused support to help students move forward with new content) is a more successful approach than endless remediation, and helps all students be successful with grade-level content.

Individualization is:

  • Classroom instruction that pays attention to the unique learning needs of each student. This is true inclusion.
  • Teaching teams using knowledge of students to design instruction that reduces barriers to learning and increases access for a wide range of student needs.
  • Teaching teams ensuring that, no matter where they start, students are accessing and mastering grade-appropriate content.

Individualization is not:

  • Creating 30 different lesson plans to meet the needs of 30 different students.
  • Relying on one teacher to lead instruction and another to support, assist, or circulate every single day.

How Teams Enable Individualization:

We believe that teams of teachers are uniquely positioned to provide individualized classroom experiences and instruction.

  1. Teaching teams have double the expertise and experience:
    The incredible power of co-teaching is the synergy that emerges when two people – each with their own unique expertise, experiences, and perspectives – share the same vision and goals for their classroom.
  2. Teaching teams have double the human capital:
    Two teachers working together can create a variety of small groups, and explore different models, to provide the individual instructional support that students need.
  3. Teaching teams have double the planning capacity:
    Two teachers can use their collaboration time to understand student progress and share planning and creation work to meet the needs of all of their students every single day.

The results are powerful.

Students in Blue Engine schools who experience individualization grow at an accelerated rate.