There’s a lot of buzz words around education these days. Words like “individualized”, “personalized” and “self-led”. While these concepts are gaining traction in mainstream education, they are the strong foundational pillars that SelfDesign was built upon, well before these concepts became popular.
“We have the ability to provide personalized one-on-one support that is directly tailored to the learner’s specific needs,” explained Principal of Educational Programs at SelfDesign, Nikki Kenyon. “When a learner and their family join SelfDesign, they are matched with a B.C. certified educator who directs their attention and energy to that learner and their specific needs in every interaction.”
This relationship-based way of facilitating learning results in educators knowing their learners and families with incredible depth.
One relationship that depicts this is with SelfDesign parent, Cheryl Woodhouse, and her educator, Shelly Busch. Cheryl’s daughter, Izzy, is now in grade four and Shelly has been Izzy’s educator since kindergarten.
“Shelly is more than just an educator,” said Cheryl. “She’s a mentor to me as a mom in this role of both parenting and educating my kids. She has all the resources we need through SelfDesign, plus she’s on my side, she gets my situation and she helps me see the things I can’t see.”
SelfDesign facilitates a learning match that allows both the family and the educator to determine if it’s a good fit.
“Our educators are as diverse as our learners,” said Nikki. “We are able to connect learners and educators based on need, best fit, interest and passions because we have over 185 educators to choose from, all with a diverse number of experiences, skills, education and background.”
All of SelfDesign’s educators are B.C. certified and follow the provincial Ministry of Education curriculum. Many of them also have additional skills and certifications.
“Our educators are lifelong learners too,” said Nikki. “They are with SelfDesign because they believe in this philosophy. So many of our educators have their own learning plans and their own learning goals and they are working to achieve those on a regular basis, both in their work and outside of their work. We have some who are on the stage, and some who are writing their own technology software. Our educators are pouring all of that passion for lifelong learning into their work.”
Diverse as the educators may be, they share a common goal of supporting their learners to lead the way when it comes to what they want to learn, and how.
“We don’t tell learners and families what they need to do,” said Shelly. “We support what they are already doing and guide them when they need help. This method gives that open space for the child to guide their own learning. It allows for their curiosity and wonder and enthusiasm to lead the way.”
The unique thing is, Shelly could be Izzy’s educator for as long as Izzy stays with SelfDesign. Izzy doesn’t have to have a different teacher every school year or a different teacher for every subject.
SelfDesign’s educators work together with the families to find out what the child’s passions are. They see the parent as the expert – as the person who knows the child best – and they seek to support the personalized goals created together with the family.
“Izzy has an interest in carpentry and architecture,” said Cheryl. “So we’re taking her to Home Depot and Rona, we’re helping her build tree forts in the yard, we’re teaching her how to do blueprints. It’s about letting the child choose and doing it in a targeted meaningful way in the hopes that the child never loses that natural curiosity that makes them natural learners.”
This kind of learning is what Shelly loves most about her role as an educator.
“I get most excited about the passion-based projects the children are doing each week,” said Shelly. “The kids are in love with learning. They’re so happy to be learning in those environments. That’s the best part of being a SelfDesign educator – seeing the joy in that kind of enthusiasm-based learning.”
Cheryl and Shelly share a special connection that is built on trust, mutual values and the shared goal of seeing the children in their care thrive as lifelong learners. With SelfDesign’s mandate of being inline with the B.C. curriculum, it goes to show that you can arrive at the same destination via many different routes. A personalized learning plan, with your very own mentor or guide by your side, can make for a sure path to success.