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Effective Intervention and Remediation Must be Personalized

Even with talented educators and solid plans, there will always be students who do not fully understand a concept the first time they learn it. Without addressing those gaps in knowledge, students are unable to form the foundation needed for future success. Imagine never mastering counting from one to 10 and being thrust into learning addition or subtraction. Instead of ignoring these gaps, educators usually do an immediate remediation or reteaching to address the area of weakness. If that is not successful, an intervention is necessary. 

Edmentum Remediation vs Intervention

Image source: Edmentum

Remediation to Avoid Formal Intervention

Teachers engage in remediation strategies as a normal part of their teaching in order to quickly address any misunderstandings of a concept. Intervention is a more formal process and usually entails the involvement of fellow educators and the examination of data to determine where a student is struggling and why. An intervention plan is implemented and reviewed at regular intervals with the goal being to quickly address the problem and have the student stay on track in their core curriculum. The PLC process or a similar data driven process is the common avenue used in schools today.

Personalization of learning is critical for intervention and remediation to be effective. The U.S. Department of Education defines personalized learning as “instruction in which the pace of learning and the instructional approach are optimized for the needs of each learner”. Look at it as students working on the same goal, but with differentiated activities and pacing. Personalized learning enables teachers to listen to individual students in order to understand how they would like to learn, engage, and prove mastery of a concept. It shifts instruction from a one-size fits all approach to one that works with students and encourages them to have a voice in their educational journey.

Intervention & Remediation in Distance Learning

As COVID-19 has redefined what it means to be “in the classroom”, many teachers are struggling with how to conduct intervention and remediation through remote or distance learning. One key to successful reteaching is utilizing parents or caregivers as partners in the process – especially when trying to personalize learning for our youngest students. It is important for teachers to lead the direct instruction of a topic through their lesson plan.


After the initial instruction, guardians can help their children interact with the concepts in the real world. Relating math concepts from class to real life situations can be as simple as asking a child to help measure ingredients while cooking a meal or incorporating guided reading. This allows the guardians to take part in their child’s education as well as provides additional pathways for learning, yet it is more accessible than a learning plan or worksheet. With help from educators, parents and caregivers can identify ways to connect academic topics with moments in their child’s day and make the learning more relevant.


Another best practice of personalized intervention and remediation during distance learning is utilizing the right resources. Technology can provide the tools needed to identify gaps in learning. Right now, many teachers are using AI and predictive analytics to catch the students who are struggling with a concept or subject. After identifying students who have not mastered a concept, they are able to to start personalizing. 


The most detailed level of personalized learning involves setting individual goals for each student. This is usually only necessary in a SPED situation or in 1:1 tutoring. But remediation and intervention can be done on a large scale, too. Educators can use video calling software to connect with their learners. For example, a math instructor may see the need to take a fresh approach on a concept. They can get on Zoom or Google Meet and have each student work with bottle caps in baggies of 10 for a more hands-on and visual learning approach to learning math.


Another option is for teachers to utilize curriculum resources to personalize the pacing and assignments for the class. Teachers can use formative assessments to identify the foundational skills that the whole class, a small group, or individual students need to work on. If the whole class is struggling with double digit addition, a teacher may decide to give each student the concepts they need to work on outside of class, using targeted resources like our Above+Beyond Learning Progression Workbooks.  As soon as 80% of the group achieves those skills educators can move them back into the regular curriculum. For those students who still haven’t got it, the teacher can then take another step back and do a formal intervention to understand why this individual student is still struggling. 


The fact is, every student has a unique background with their own personal strengths and weaknesses. This presents a massive challenge to the education system to not only recognize these differences, but to develop strategies which address each student’s needs. This is why personalized learning, and relearning through intervention and remediation, is essential. By using the right tools and resources, teachers can quickly identify when remediation or intervention is needed. It allows educators to address the gaps in knowledge and work to help every student build a strong foundation for them to continue with in their educational journey. 


As math people, we know how challenging it can be to teach students when they don’t feel that what they are learning connects to their life and interests. Imagine how much worse it must be for educators with competing pressures and tasks who are being asked (or forced) to sit through another irrelevant professional development session. Getting one day of training in August on a new piece of software and then not using that tool until January is definitely not applicable. By the time you’re using the resource, you have forgotten 80% of what was taught since it was never used and never had the chance to enter long-term memory. If professional learning isn’t applicable, educators won’t retain the knowledge. For teachers, this is a waste of time; for districts, it is a waste of money; for students, it provides no benefit at all.


Applicable training is both differentiated and scaffolded. It’s tied to what educators already know and what and how they learn so they are ready to apply it, practice it, test if implementation is successful, retrain or adapt as needed, and really see impact. Only when educators see that their training is making a difference to students will they incorporate it into their wider instructional practices.


Providing applicable training treats teachers with respect. It treats them as partners. And it requires that we check back in. When teachers leave the initial training, they will have something of a handle on the new content, but that isn’t the end. When a student leaves a lesson having shown progress, we don’t wait until the summative exam to revisit the topic! 


Instead, approach professional learning as an ongoing process where each piece of training is delivered with the appropriate timing that allows teachers to use it immediately and revisit it throughout the year. At TMU, we hold follow-up “Office Hours” between five and ten days after each initial training and we don’t just conduct sessions in August. We work to develop true partnerships with multiple, ongoing checkpoints. We celebrate when school leaders can reflect on the professional learning they receive and say “training was hands-on, interactive and adjusted throughout to ensure all participants were able to walk away with a solid understanding to implement in the classroom.” Our team of Special Education and math experts provide schools and districts with a wide range of customized schedules and options, all able to be delivered in a virtual format.