To meet the needs of an ever-changing tomorrow, school districts must continue to grow and evolve. At its most desired state, a classroom is a laboratory of innovation and its teacher, a "mad" scientist - working everyday to make connections between students and the content. Unfortunately, the chaotic uncertainty of the last two years have left educators fighting to survive, leaving little time for experimentation. This reality leads us to an important question: how can we measure growth and innovation during these challenging times?
One answer is by building momentum.
Teachers are feeling the weight of new responsibilities and a changing educational landscape; so new district initiatives are often viewed as an increased burden and ‘just another thing’. This understandable mindset acts as a block to permitting new ideas or innovation. Districts must, therefore, find new ways to roll out fresh ideas, strategies and tools. And, the focus of these new ways must be to build momentum.
Located in the beautiful Finger Lakes, Auburn Enlarged City School District (AECSD) partnered with Education Elements to bring personalized learning to its classrooms. To build momentum, AECSD and Education Elements have decided to start small. For the past two school years, the shift to personalized learning has taken the form of a fellowship.
The Auburn Personalized Learning Fellowship is composed of self-selected educators from all across the district. Participants were able to assess their own capacity for innovation through the application process. Then together these eager and passionate educators were supported, through the fellowship which fostered a valuable and intimate cross pollination of ideas.
Fellows regularly to dive into the different elements of the Core Four of Personalized Learning. And, in between sessions, educators test each concept in their classroom and engage in conversations about best practices.
The impact of the fellowship experience has not been isolated to the participating teachers. The fellowship was designed to build momentum by transforming each fellow into a personalized learning advocate and leader. Throughout, teachers have written blog posts sharing their new ideas and strategies with not only the school district but also the Auburn community. They have also collaborated and designed ways to bring personalized learning to the rest of the district.
This year the program concluded with a capstone project in which each fellow captured their greatest innovations of the year. And, by sharing the impact of personalized learning on student growth and ownership, the fellows are helping to pave the way for others to follow. Aurburn is building momentum, brining in new ideas to make these impactful scalable, gains.