BYOT SERIES: PERSONALIZED LEARNING AND THE WORLD OF WORK #10
BEING A DISTRICT DEVELOPMENT ASSOCIATE
Personalized learning is a new and growing galaxy at the edge of the education universe. In my opinion, Education Elements is at the center of that galaxy, acting as a thought leader in a nebulous, evolving field.
I flatter myself by comparing my work at Education Elements to that of a Star Trek fleet member: I work at the final frontier of my company’s knowledge, initiating contact with new life forms and venturing into unknown places to return with stories of wonder and woe.
My real work only differs from the above in that, unlike Captain James T. Kirk, I work exclusively with humans. I am Education Element’s District Development Associate, which means I am responsible for cultivating conversations with school districts on the subject of personalized learning.
Given that I act as an intermediary between my company and the vast education industry, I sometimes struggle to understand whether I am working effectively or if the market is simply shifting around me. I send emails and phone calls off into space, never knowing if my communication will return. Whereas a programmer might clearly measure cause and effect with the appearance or resolution of a bug in a software script, I have no conclusive metric to gauge success. Does a lack of response mean that I wasn’t helpful? Am I truly meeting their needs, or am I simply projecting what I want? Why did she respond and not him? There are many variables involved with the interpersonal interactions comprising my work, making it difficult to learn and improve.
Difficult, but not impossible. As an advocate of personalized learning and a member of the Starship Enterpri---I mean, Education Elements---I am persistent in developing habits that facilitate ongoing and personalized learning experiences.
So, you might ask, what kind of habits ensure personalized learning for a District Development Associate?
First and foremost, I make sure that my work is thoughtful and carefully documented. Maybe I can’t exactly explain why some conversations deepen and others disappear, but I collect enough data about my work to analyze trends over time. Just like a student might want to see past assignments to understand future steps, I need a history of my work efforts.
Next, in the absence of obvious causal results, I create a constant dialogue around my work with the help of my colleagues and our clients. By better understanding the environment surrounding my actions, I remain relevant in my recommendations to school districts. Context is a critical component of personalized learning to guarantee that students feel their work fits into some larger schema.
Finally, I constantly remind myself of the pride and pleasure I take in my work. My authentic passion for improving student outcomes helps me achieve more aligned and fruitful conversations with district leaders. Plus, learning and working at Education Elements is naturally more enjoyable when I keep in mind the purpose behind my efforts. Students also need to be reminded of “why” to keep them excited about learning.
Though I don’t have to battle galactic villains or repair starships, understanding how to best personalize my own learning can still feel like abstract rocket science. It takes active reflection, diligence and self-accountability for me to learn how to adapt to the ever-changing needs of our school districts.
Fortunately, Education Elements is one of the best organizations pioneering exploration in this space. I feel inspired by our forward-gazing efforts to make the out-of-this-world discoveries necessary for beaming our students into the future.