The Art of Adaptive Teaching: Tailoring Methods to Diverse Learners

Professional Development

Have you ever endured one-size-fits-all classroom instruction day after day? It's boring, tedious, and frustrating for students of any age.

This type of teaching ignores the fact that students learn differently and need varying levels of support to reach their full potential. That's why it's so important for teachers to know their students and do their best to meet their individual needs and learning styles.

Adaptive teaching embraces the individual in the classroom, considering their unique strengths.

Here's a guide to the benefits of adaptive teaching for diverse learners.

What Is Adaptive Teaching?

At some point in college or during job training or professional development, you've probably come across the term "differentiation." This concept became popular in the late 1990s and revolves around the concept that one size does not fit all when it comes to education.

Differentiation can be employed in classrooms with students ranging from elementary to adult learners. Examples may be providing auditory or visual aids, using cooperative grouping, changing your presentation method, and other strategies.

Adaptive teaching embraces the concept of differentiation but takes it one step further. It's a concept that focuses on the entire group of learners while still attending to their individual needs in the classroom.

The Benefits of Adaptive Teaching

Adaptive teaching is an educational approach that tailors instruction to the learner. It centres around an engaging and supportive learning environment.

The goal is to empower students to take ownership of their learning, foster their passions, and help them reach their full potential. Some benefits include:

  • Instruction methods that positively correlate with performance
  • Getting to know the students and understanding their learning needs
  • Offering opportunities for all students to experience success
  • Provides a personalised, engaging experience in the classroom
  • Tailors classroom instruction to the unique needs of the learner
  • Promotes inclusivity and acceptance
  • Enables teachers to create a supportive and effective learning environment

Adaptive Teaching Strategies for Teachers

There are a variety of ways a teacher can incorporate adaptive instruction into their day-to-day teaching. Some examples include:

Flexible Seating

This approach allows learners to choose their own seats in the classroom. The teacher may want to offer a variety of seating options, such as bean bag chairs, standing desks, group seating, or others. The goal is for students to choose a comfortable spot to learn and work that fits their learning style.


Games can be a fantastic way to get some learners involved. Incorporating technology and game elements like points, badges, and leaderboards can be motivating for some students.

Making learning fun energises hands-on learners and helps motivate them to stay focused, participate, and apply themselves.

Collaborative Learning

Some learners thrive in a collaborative classroom environment. This approach encourages learners to sit with others, solve problems, and complete tasks. 

Cooperative learning helps build teamwork, critical thinking, and communication skills. 

Approaches to Adaptive Learning

Adaptive learning embraces the individual learner. Teachers can use a broad variety of key strategies to enhance the educational experience.

Differentiated Instruction

The hallmark of adaptive learning is differentiated instruction. With this technique, teachers can identify students' learning needs and find the best ways to meet them within the classroom setting.


The educational content can be modified according to a student's learning pace. High achievers can move faster through the lesson or work on more in-depth material. Teachers can focus on struggling students or offer more time if needed.


In an adaptive learning environment, the approach isn't homogenous. The goal is to meet the needs of the individual learner. For some, a hands-on approach is best. Others may need visual aids or the opportunity to work alone.


Students may prefer to demonstrate learning in different ways. For some, writing may be the best option. Some may like to explain what they've learned, while others prefer an electronic format for training and assessment.

The Power of Individualised Instruction

Individualised learning requires individualised teaching. It's about "how" a student learns and "what" it takes to get them there. The curriculum is adapted to student learning patterns and needs.

For example, a history student who loves technology may enjoy researching how technology has affected history. If a student is an artist, they may love researching how clothing styles have evolved over time.

Touching on students' interests can lead to more meaningful learning. This helps cultivate a deeper understanding of the material and an enthusiasm for learning.

Flexibility in Teaching 

Adaptive instruction requires flexibility. Teachers focus on their students and their diverse needs. Letting students make choices about how they want to learn can make them more receptive to learning and increase their curiosity.

Adaptive learning models allow students to have a voice in how they learn and how they are tested. They work at their own pace to learn, research, and present what they've learned.

The use of technology, articles, videos, and other learning tools offers ways to supplement learning. Finding ways for learners to take a deep dive into a subject they're interested in yields greater engagement and productivity.

Addressing Diverse Learning Styles

Acknowledging the diverse learning styles within a classroom is critical for an inclusive and effective educational environment. Some ways to address students' learning styles include:

  • Differentiated instruction
  • Varied instructional strategies
  • Multisensory teaching techniques
  • Flexible grouping
  • Personalised learning plans
  • Feedback and reflection
  • Professional development

Students learn best through a teaching approach that caters to their personal preferences. Within any classroom, you will find the following types of learners:

  • Auditory learners
  • Visual learners
  • Kinesthetic or hands-on learners

Adaptive teaching is more than educational jargon. It's a thoughtful student-centred approach to teaching and learning.

The Benefit of Adaptive Teaching for Diverse Learners

Adaptive teaching is focused on the individual needs of diverse learners. It's the opposite of the old one-size-fits-all educational approach.

Adaptive teaching takes into account the strengths, interests, and learning styles of each student. This allows for more focused, engaged, and enthusiastic learners. 

Since 2009, Fortress Learning has been dedicated to the learning potential of every individual. We offer accredited Certificate IV Training and Assessment courses as well as TAE diplomas.

If you're interested in learning more about our available online courses, contact Fortress Learning today.     

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