The Grosse Pointe Institute for Learning is almost ready to open and as you search for a place that suits your child's needs, I think it is important for you to understand what the benefits are and why we focus on small group instruction. Learning is definitely not a 'one size fits all' situation. Working in a small group allows for an expansion of thinking beyond what one mind is capable of. Sharing ideas and thoughts is essential for growth, in addition to learning how to properly express a valid disagreement. Small groups help to identify and nurture strengths and support weaknesses.
There are four key benefits to small group instruction:
Personalized Instruction: Small groups allow a teacher to work closely with a group of students to evaluate, support, and identify areas of strength and weakness. Each student in the group has the ability to contribute while the teacher can check for understanding, break down concepts that may not be understood, and easily adapt the pacing of a lesson based on the intimate setting of the group. Each member of the group will have their own individual goals to work on while the group has a larger, overall learning objective. Students have a greater chance at successfully mastering a concept or skill due to not being able to hide in a larger group setting. Less students means more engagement from those in the group; More engagement leads to more discussion and deeper understanding.
Provide Feedback: Small groups offer the opportunity for teachers to provide instant feedback for students while they are working on a skill or concept. This eliminates frustration from struggling learners and provides reinforcement to those who are successfully mastering a skill or concept. It also allows for student-to-student feedback, as well. In a traditional classroom setting, student-to-student feedback is minimal, if at all present in the day. Teaching students to provide valuable feedback to one another is a critical skill to achieve success. Allowing communication between students in a guided environment helps each student start to identify how important effective communication is.
Stop or Go: Small group instruction allows teachers the ability to provide additional teaching and practice when needed. Many students get lost in the shuffle when teachers need to keep the pacing of a lesson moving forward to "get through" all of the necessary content. A small group can pause, re-teach, and help struggling learners immediately. We can move forward based on the ability to pre-teach skills through diagnostic testing, and move students into groups that may suit their needs better. Pre-teaching can also identify potential struggles and allow time to create some background knowledge to set the stage for learning. The flexibility of a small group benefits all types of learners.
Build Confidence Through Collaboration: Everyone in a small group counts. If a teacher creates a comfortable space to share ideas and make mistakes, students thrive. Once students understand that they are an integral part of the group, confidence grows and there is a mutual understanding between everyone that we are all there to support each other, learn from one another, and work as a team. Students will learn to self reflect and how to communicate in a positive and productive manner.
These are certainly not the only benefits to working in small groups, but these 4 key benefits, support why I strongly believe in this model for our students at the Grosse Pointe Institute for Learning. As I mentioned earlier, learning is not a "one size fits all" model. This means our groups are fluid and can change based on level, ability, personalities, and behavior.