<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=191589654984215&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">
Opening Doors: Collaboration Brings Personalized Learning to Life

Opening Doors: Collaboration Brings Personalized Learning to Life

Personalized Learning  |  Teachers  |  School Districts  |  Teams & Culture  |  District Leadership  |  School Leadership

Implementing personalized learning across an entire school district is an ambitious undertaking. It requires a dedicated investment of time and resources, but the potential benefits for student learning are undeniable. One of the biggest challenges is prioritizing thoughtful professional development for educators amid many competing priorities in districts. Our team faced this challenge while partnering with the Manchester Shortsville Central School District in New York. Manchester is a rural district located near Rochester, serving approximately 700 students across PK-12th grade. We had been working with a dedicated group of teachers for over a year, and their team was eager to expand the program to a wider range of educators. In closing feedback, one teacher wrote, “I found the time we had to bounce ideas off each other to be beneficial.  Learning about what my colleagues are doing in the classrooms was eye opening. I am always looking to learn from them.” As a result, the Red Jacket team engaged our Education Elements (EE) team to work with the whole middle and high school teams. Unfortunately, finding dates that worked for everyone proved difficult.

Resourceful Thinking: Partnering for Success

As our work showed signs of success, Manchester Shortsville sought opportunities to expand support for its transition to personalized learning. They connected our EE team with the Wayne-Finger Lakes BOCES (WFL BOCES), a regional educational service agency. This enabled them to secure additional monthly support during existing staff development meetings.[LIVING BLOG CTA] - Resource - Personalizing Learning

At the end of every EE and BOCES session, we asked staff to share the small shifts they planned to make in their classroom. In between meetings, our teams shared those insights and used them to plan the activities we would discuss in the following personalized learning session. Speaking about these shifts, Hilary Chaya, a BOCES staff development trainer, shared that the partnership, “offered personalized assistance, allowing staff to turn to either EE, WFL BOCES, or both, based on their comfort level and specific needs.”

These 30-45 minute touchpoints provided a crucial bridge, ensuring alignment with WFL BOCES approached instruction and personalized learning strategies for educators with Education Element’s Core Four Elements of Personalized Learning. These shorter sessions allowed teachers to stay engaged, reflect on their initial implementation efforts, and gain access to new resources. As a result of this collaboration, we created an entire learning arc for teachers, beginning and ending with a longer EE-led session with BOCES support between these sessions. 

Screenshot 2024-05-14 at 7.34.06 PM

Keys to a Positive Partnership

The success of this collaboration hinged on several key factors. First, EE and the WFL BOCES maintained aligned messaging on the overall partnership and established clear expectations and instructional topics for each meeting. In reflecting on the partnership, Chaya said, “Our innovative approach to meeting the district's needs provided their staff with enriched experiences, offering diverse perspectives on the topic of personalized learning.” Sharing the concept of 1% shifts and referencing one another’s sessions at the beginning of each session ensured a cohesive learning experience for the teachers.

Second, a "one percent shifts" mentality empowered educators to continuously improve their practices. The regular meetings provided a platform for teachers to share these gradual improvements, gather feedback, and access additional support. From our first session to our final session, teachers’ understanding and comfort with personalized learning increased from ‘somewhat confident’ to ‘confident’ on an anonymous feedback survey.

Finally, a strong culture of collaboration and resource sharing fostered a sense of continuity between sessions. Materials and strategies shared during one meeting became the foundation for the next, allowing the program to build momentum throughout the year. Education Elements traditional PL services benefited from. Chaya found benefits to her traditional PL support as well, noting, “The close partnership provided me with the opportunity to collaborate with Ed Elements staff, enabling me to brainstorm ideas while developing professional learning opportunities for the district in real time.” Additionally, partnering with the WFL BOCES to bring them into classrooms during learning walks opened new doors. The invitation provided Hilary and the BOCES team additional insight into what teachers were currently doing in their classrooms. As a result, subsequent BOCES sessions were focused on further developing flexible path and pace in the classroom through examining examples and reflecting with peers. 

Lessons Learned: The Power of Collaboration

This experience at Manchester Shortsville Schools is a powerful testament to the transformative potential of collaboration. By combining resources, expertise, and innovative thinking, EE and the WFL BOCES created a more robust professional learning experience for educators around personalized learning strategies than either organization could have achieved independently. Instead of isolated touchpoints, we formed a collaborative learning arc that fostered continuous growth and development.

This partnership highlights the importance of thinking creatively to build new types of resources and collaboration to drive true educational change. When districts, educational organizations, and educators work together, they can unlock new possibilities and create transformative learning experiences for all students.

New call-to-action


About Evan Meerscheidt

Evan Meerscheidt is a Design Associate on the Design and Implementation team. While studying English at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, Evan found his love for education through working with immigrants to improve their English and pass the U.S. citizenship test and serving as a teaching assistant. Evan taught 6th grade ELA and coached volleyball in Gallup, New Mexico. Teaching during the Covid-19 pandemic forced him to adapt his teaching practices and emphasize students’ mental health and their Social Emotional Learning. Afterwards, he worked with schools and districts on the Rosebud Reservation to address issues caused by the digital divide. Through these experiences, he learned the importance of meeting students where they are and differentiating to their needs. Outside of work, he enjoys hiking, cooking, and spending time with friends.

Public Relations Today