I’ve mentioned to a few people that I’m having my education mid-life crisis. After almost 20 years in education, I’ve seen various initiatives, software solutions, and programs come and go. Hundreds of millions are spent each year trying to move the needle, yet we continue to get similar results. It isn’t without the sweat, blood, and tears of all the educators in the country that work so hard.
Sometimes I wish I were more like my mom. There are many reasons why, but many times it’s because I wish I were a great cook. I used to watch her in the kitchen just glance at a picture of a dish from a cookbook, then create that without ever having to follow the step-by-step recipe that was next to the picture. It was like watching a magic show.
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Each year we receive hundreds of questions along the lines of, “Okay…so what does personalized learning actually look like?” We have a few answers to this question. One is that personalized learning always involves these core four elements - targeted instruction, data-driven decisions, flexible content, and student reflection and ownership. Check out our Core Four white paper for a more detailed description of these elements, as well as classroom examples.
All districts have strategic plans. For many districts, they are the most expensive document created in a given year. Getting to a final draft usually takes several months or more and requires the time of many staff and community members. There are committees, meetings, surveys, reviews, discussions and multiple rounds of revision.
Close your eyes and imagine yourself in an all-purpose room with uncomfortable chairs and a trainer lecturing to a whole-group about the latest small-group teaching strategies. We’ve all been there, right? Stuck in PD sessions with facilitators who don’t practice what they preach.
We hear all the time “You’ve seen districts implement personalized learning all across the country - give it to us straight - how do we compare?” Whether districts are just getting started and dipping a toe into personalized learning, or are reflecting on several successful years of implementation and searching for ways to go deeper, district leaders want to know how their progress compares to national benchmarks. It isn’t enough to look inward; they need data from the outside too.