Having been used to teaching students in bigger classes, I would require everyone to pay attention to me whenever I taught.
I would demand students to give me all their eyes and ears to make them learn effectively from me. I was teacher-centered and I got so irritated with the little distraction they would make. I felt I was a security guard checking on every student's behavior such that I felt so tired and frustrated at the end of the day when I failed to accomplish my goals.
When I taught in a private school in Chiangmai, I had the opportunity to handle kindergarten 1 and 2 students in the English program. They were so adorable 3 and 4-year-olds with very low attention span and were quite difficult to sustain their interest. So wanting to be effective with these kinds of kids, I thought of better ways of handling and teaching them. One time my assistant teacher was teaching our students one by one. I noticed our students were doing well and I told myself, why not try it too.
So one day, I tried giving task to the class. While the rest of the students were working I called individual students to work with me. It was very relaxing. The class was very busy and quiet and the student I worked with was focused on what I asked him/her to do.
So when I left that school, I brought this idea with me. I did it whenever my students had oral recitation, when they copied something, when they were doing seatwork, or when I spotted a number of students needing individual assistance.
I would provide coloring or writing activities which students would do while I worked with someone. In other occasions I would assign those who finished their work to play word games, play interactive games on my touch screen computer, or simply watch an English video. In fact most students were encouraged to finish their work so that they could do what their fast classmates were doing.
Benefits to students
Individualized instruction meets the needs of individual students. With it, a large number of students are benefitted and are given the necessary treatment and assistance especially those with special needs. When special students' needs are addressed they feel a sense of accomplishment.
With advance students, they get the feeling of success too and so overwhelmed doing other activities as a reward for accomplishing the task ahead of time Because of this, disciplinary problems are minimized. Why? It's because everybody is busy. One more thing, students know immediately the result of their work.
I have been privileged to handle small classes with 17 students as the biggest and 6 as the smallest. So, if I have the opportunity to individualize my teaching, I do it. I will call one student to my seat, check his/her work, make the student change his/her answer when it is wrong, and receive extra work or reward.
Fast or slow students enjoy this but I enjoy it more because I am relieved from attending to disciplinary problems which students may cause, I have helped individual students, and I have made their learning less stressful and most of all a tremendous success.
Why don't you try it in your class.