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Personalized Learning


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It IS Personal: The Irreplaceable Effect of a Shared Experience between People

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Personalized Learning

  1. 1. I have a friend. Our children go to school together, which is how we met four years ago. Unlike many friendships, ours did not start out with a gradual introduction, or even with a handshake and a “nice to meet you.” Our friendship was cemented at the moment we realized we were sending our firstborns off to school with packs on their backs double their kindergarten size and terrified looks on their faces that said what they could not make sense of or form into words: What is happening here and whatever it is, please, please, please, do not make me do it.
  2. 2. We were strangers but for that uneasy, sideways glance when we weren’t, when we acknowledged and assured one another, “It will be okay, they will be okay, we will all be okay.We will get through it together.”
  3. 3. Thank goodness for shared experiences. As it turns out, my friend also happens to be a teacher—an exceptional one. She is the teacher that parents request for their children even though parents can’t request teachers for their children where we live. I guess moms, dads, and grandparents figure it’s worth a shot. Pretty Colors by Ava F. Mirabito
  4. 4. She, like many teachers, will know her students: what they love, what they don’t, and how they make sense of everything in between. She is a teacher who makes the call to share great news; she will also have the tough conversations when learning or behavior require some extra attention. In spite of what she is able to build within her students, there is one conversation that always comes up when we get together.That conversation is about personalizing learning. As smart, caring, and committed as my friend is to her students and her profession, she, like other teachers, feels as though she can’t keep up, isn’t on the cutting edge. She feels like what she has always known and done just isn’t quite enough now.
  5. 5. Here are some of the questions that come up. See if they are familiar to you: • How do I provide students with what they need—as a group and individually? • How do I find the time to create opportunities for them to think about what they know, discover and pursue what they want to know, and apply what they’ve learned, especially when they all do it so differently in pacing and approach? • How do I do all or any of that when there is just so much of everything to do in a day? • How do I make the most of the time I have with my students? • What am I supposed to do with all of this technology? Am I using it the best way I can? Should I use it at all? How and where can I find the time and the training to use technology well in teaching and learning?
  6. 6. We don’t necessarily refer to it as “personalized learning” in our conversations, but that’s exactly what we are talking about. I can see and hear the frustration of my friend—wanting to figure it out but not knowing how—how to use instructional modes more effectively, incorporate technology more strategically, organize learning into pathways for each student rather than one pathway for all students. This is still the same teacher that parents clamor for, the teacher who can tell you nearly every interest and need each of her seven-year-old students hold and have. If she doubts what she can offer to students, then surely there are thousands standing in line with her.
  7. 7. She underestimates her role and the ways she has already personalized learning, the ways she has laid the groundwork. She, as the teacher, matters most. While technology can expand her influence, it does not diminish it. Friendship by Anna L. Mirabito
  8. 8. Complete Reflection 1 or think about these questions: What comes to mind when you think of personalized learning? How would you describe it? What are a few of the ways you already personalize learning for your students? What in personalized learning would you like to know more about?
  9. 9. In the Handbook on Personalized Learning for States, Districts, and Schools, Sam Redding describes the importance of relationships, student engagement and development of personal competencies, all of which require, at the center, a caring, engaged, and competent teacher: Relationships.Teacher’s relationships with students and their families add onto the standard definition of personalization two new elements. First, it introduces the teacher as a central figure, engaging the learner in identifying what is to be learned and in the design of how it is to be learned, intentionally building students’ personal competencies that propel learning, and forming relationships with students and their families to better understand the student, the student’s needs, and the student’s aspirations. In fact, the teacher uniquely possesses an asset for the student through “relational suasion,” as described by Redding (2013): The teacher possesses the power of relational suasion that technology cannot match.Through the teacher’s Through the teacher’s example and her instruction, the student learns to value mastery, to raise expectations, raise expectations, to manage learning, and to broaden interests.The teacher is singularly capable of teaching capable of teaching social and emotional skills and engaging families in their children’s academic and academic and personal development. (pp. 6–7)
  10. 10. Student Engagement. “Enlist[ing] the student in the creation of learning pathways” honors the student’s interests and aspirations, encourages the student’s sense of responsibility for learning, and exercises the student’s ability to navigate the learning process.” Personal Competencies. “Enhanc[ing] the student’s “personal competencies” means intentionally building the student’s capacity to learn by incorporating into instruction and teacher–student interactions the content and activities that enhance the student’s cognitive, metacognitive, motivational, and social-emotional competencies.These four personal competencies are the propellants of learning and together form students’ learning habits.”
  11. 11. Infographic of the Personal Competencies Download it here
  12. 12. Teachers strive to find more effective, more efficient ways to reach their students.They might let their technological insecurities get the best of them sometimes, but relational suasion, the intentional design of instruction, makes teachers unique and even more irreplaceable. Many teachers are reshaping what they've always done instructionally.They've figured out how to spend time working with their students on really important things—like asking great questions and solving big problems and providing one-on-one or small-group instruction that builds learning connections as much as it strengthens human connections. Everyone has to start somewhere. Ask questions. Commit to finding a better way. Find like-minded travelers for the journey. Thank goodness for shared experiences. Your journey starts right here.
  13. 13. Complete Reflection 2 or think about these questions: How have you experienced relation suasion with your students? When you reviewed the Personal Competencies Infographic, what questions or ideas did it raise?