Raise your hand if you are still trying to fill teacher vacancies, even though it’s the end of the first semester. How about if you’ve had teachers start the year, but they’ve since exited? Maybe you’ve heard this: “I’m considering not staying another year because even though I love my students, I no longer feel connected to the work.” These experiences represent an aspect of our current educational landscape. Teachers are conflicted about leaving the classroom and pursuing roles outside of education. School leaders are struggling to retain strong talent and hire new members. These are pressing challenges.
Recently I attended an event called, “Synergy in the Sciences to Support Literacy Instruction” hosted by Lexia Learning. It was a small round table discussion, including higher education leaders, researchers, politicians, policymakers, and district administrators. As the Chief Learning Officer of Scholarus Learning, I was there to provide inputs on how change might be implemented since Scholarus works with thousands of schools providing consulting, surveys, and custom curricula. Scholarus is currently assisting a state implement a certification program for over ten thousand teachers each month on the Science of Reading, so we are seeing impactful approaches at a state level and at the individual teacher level.
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I don’t know about you, but I definitely feel a shift in how we live in this world. Day-to-day life feels a bit slower. Receiving Amazon deliveries the next day seems the norm, and whether or not your favorite restaurant will be closed due to staffing or delivery limitations is increasingly common. It’s not rare for apps on your phone to be buggy with the latest release, or for the remodeling of your home to take twice as long or cost twice as much as it did pre-pandemic. As I write this, there’s daily news about the fallout from the failures of FTX in the crypto markets, and the war in Ukraine has continued for almost a year.
“I want to be in the room where it happens...” There are so many powerful scenes in the award-winning musical, Hamilton. The moment Aaron Burr laments being left out of the decision-making process is not only a turning point in the story but a great depiction of how many feel when it comes to the all-important “rooms” where decisions that affect their lives are made.
More than ever, teachers need connections and opportunities to talk about student learning, celebrate progress and discuss overcoming challenges. The welcome and standard structure of PLCs in schools is an obvious route for these professional conversations. It is easy for meetings to be eaten up with personal stories, professional questions, and school concerns. It distracts from the intention of this time, which is designed to ensure students are at the center of teaching and learning.
At Education Elements, we define personalized learning as an instructional approach that empowers students to build ownership of their learning. And, as students transitioned back into schools in the wake of remote and hybrid learning, our district partners across the country emphasize that this student-centered approach to teaching has never been more needed. With buzzwords floating around like “learning loss,” we are at risk of losing the full story of how educators have always endeavored to meet students where they are. At this moment, personalized learning is emerging as a critical process that equips educators with the practices to support students in getting the instruction they need, when they need it.