It’s in my nature to bristle at slogans and buzzwords. I’ve taught long enough to know that buzzwords are easy to toss around, much harder to understand, and nearly impossible to transform into effective change. So when I first heard the term “personalized learning”, I questioned it. Does it mean we cater to the whims of every child? Is it just another word for “blended learning? How is it different from the individualized education plans we write in special education?
While I still question the ways I hear the term used, even by many who style themselves as experts in personalized learning, I think I’ve clarified what it means for me, the extent that I am already using it, and how embracing the buzzword might help me move my program toward richer student gains.
Next year, my alternative graduation program (which was called the Late Afternoon School) will combine with another program to create a new entity that we call our Personalized Learning Program. So there – buzzword embraced.
We will use many of the structures of the Late Afternoon School, which were essentially basic building blocks of personalized learning, including:
- Intake sessions that begin with student goal setting
- Schedules and service delivery settings based on student needs, rather than a bell schedule and seat-time in a classroom
- Focus on the development of relationships between staff and students
- Tailored coursework that incorporates the student’s post-secondary transition goals
- Options for alternative assessments to demonstrate competency in course standards
Some areas that I plan to improve on this year include:
- Improved formative assessment to further tailor student coursework and assessment throughout the year
- Increased student self-assessment and reflection
- Competency based grading
- Communicating our successes throughout the school and school system
I’m sure I’ll add to this list as I continue learning and I’ll post updates on my progress. Comments and suggestions are welcomed and encouraged below, as always.