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PL Superpowers - My Journey to Personalized Learning Superpower Stardom

By: Dr. Eric Hibbs on March 15th, 2017

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PL Superpowers - My Journey to Personalized Learning Superpower Stardom

Personalized Learning  |  School Districts  |  EE Summit  |  Innovative Leadership

I was blessed to become a Personalized Learning Lexington Education Leadership Award Fellow (2nd Class) back in December of 2015. Education Elements not only influenced my personal work, but it motivated me to make learning meaningful for my students (all 4,970) in an exceptional way. My work in personalized learning has been inspirational in my district. Every district educational leader will always answer yes to certain questions. So, if you ask leaders if they use data to drive instruction, the answer will be yes. If you ask if leaders embed small group learning into their districts, the answer will be yes. If you ask if leaders utilize digital tools to help students make educational learning gains, the answer will be yes.

The reality is that almost no one uses a systems process to make these three incredibly important processes look specifically like something. In other words, we all espouse these processes to be important and will profess to use them efficiently, but in reality, this is not occurring. My work on personalized learning has delineated specific processes for each of these important aspects of education.

I have worked with my district to create not just an overall vision for PL, but also to create sub-visions for data, SGI, digital tools, and student-set learning goals. We have actual processes for data. We analyze achievement data and local data mining essential opportunities for improvement on both the district and school level. For instance, as a superintendent, I can tell you that on the last mathematics common assessment, 40% of my 5th grade students did not understand that .6 is equivalent to .60.

Data in personalized learning

Data ussage in personalized learning

Teachers then use this information to make learning personal for students. This is just a very small example of the data we use to personalize learning. We then analyze data from the district level, which informs our professional development and curriculum. We utilize a Plan-Do-Check-Act philosophy in order to ensure that data enables personalized learning.

Using math classroom data at the school and district level

Math CA 1 District-School Level Data 

In Marlboro, we also have a systems process for small group instruction. We have worked with our staff to ensure that we have developed common professional development and expectations for instruction so that learning is personalized for students. Lastly, we have also developed a systems process for digital tools. This has involved common professional development, common ways to analyze data from these professional tools, and training our staff on how to use these tools in order to personalize learning for our students.

See here an example of an ELA District Data Dashboard, and School Data Dashboard


Our work in Marlboro ensures that we reach all levels of learners. The exceptional learner to the struggling learner has their learning personalized through systems processes for data, small group instruction, digital tools, and student-set learning goals. Our work is making a difference in the lives of our students and staff, and I can honestly say that no one else is engaging in the work that we are engaging in. It is truly remarkable. Again, everyone will say they use data to drive instruction and that their district uses small group instruction. When you then ask what that specifically looks like and how they quantify if it is working, everything falls apart. The personalized learning work we are engaging in ensures that every child finds learning meaningful. I not only feel that I am a PL Superhero, but I know that the work we are engaging in enables our students to be heroes of learning as well.   


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About Dr. Eric Hibbs

Dr. Hibbs is currently serving in his fourth year as the Superintendent of the Marlboro Township School District in Marlboro, New Jersey. Dr. Hibbs is passionate about personalized learning, digital tools, and everything Google. As the educational leader of his district, Dr. Hibbs has designed a systems process for personalized learning. This involves the effective use of digital tools in order to individualize learning for his students. Dr. HIbbs was chosen to be in the second cohort for the Lexington Educational Leadership Award (LELA) for his efforts and passion about personalizing learning for students. Dr. Hibbs is also extremely passionate about the Google platform. In his district, he personally develops and deploys Google professional development for his staff. This involves personalizing professional development and disseminating relevant Google updates to his staff. Google is constantly evolving and changing. Dr. Hibbs has earned a Level 1 & 2 Google Certified Educator Certification, and he keeps his staff updated of the changes and improvements to the Google platform. He has presented on multiple occasions his systems plan for Google professional development. Dr. Hibbs is a constant advocate for educational technology. He deployed a 1:1 initiative of chromebooks in his district; he is constantly piloting new technology initiatives and opportunities in his district. A firm believer in the systems process, Dr. Hibbs uses the Plan-Do-Check-Act philosophy. Dr. Hibbs is currently an adjunct professor at Rowan University and teaches multiple courses. He has presented at NJSBA, New Jersey TECHSPO, Monmouth County Professional Development Days, and at the Monmouth County Superintendents and Curriculum Roundtables. A firm believer in lifelong education, Dr. Hibbs earned his doctorate in educational leadership at Rowan University.

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