Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Teachers Define Personalized Learning!
 The Badass Teachers Association

As we have seen over the last few years the corporate reform industry has hijacked the term "personalized learning" from education.  Corporate Reform Industrialists will sell off their version of personalized learning as fancy computer games that are fun for kids, or learning that is tailored to your child.  What they don't share is that this is the way your child will spend their day.....



To be clear, this is certainly NOT the way that teachers, parents, and students visualize "personalized learning."  Teachers on the Facebook page The Badass Teachers Association were asked how they would define personalized learning.  Here is what they said:

Personalized learning is about students choosing the topic of study, based on their individual interest, rather than the entire class studying the exact same subject.

Personalized learning comes from the heart of the teacher to the heart of the student ...it is filled with wonderment... human to human ...relationship of connecting to a student in way that you provide them with whatever it is they need to unlock their potential.. this usually starts with with getting them to believe in themselves... no technology can do that but a highly trained teacher a human being; no technology opens a child's mind! technology can help take kids on journey to other places virtually but technology does not provide that human touch the OMG you did it! High Five! Those are the moments true educators live for..

 It means conversations. Today I pointed out a student's strengths after he didn't listen. I explained how he will mature even more next year and people will think of him as responsible when he does listen. He really listened and smiled a lot. It was a great conversation. They are children. They are not robots.

It means you have KNOWLEDGE, personal knowledge, of who that individual is......not a program which can type a student's name in base 2 data coding..... personalized learning is warm, soulful, and dynamic.....not cold, digitalized, and static; it goes back to the Greek ideas of learning.....sitting and conversing and listening and then freely bantering ideas.....not text messaging

 It's two-way, students asking questions, not just instructors doing all the talking and asking except for students answering. It's teachers being responsive to a student's interests, beyond the basic skills and knowledge to be imparted.

 Personalized learning is NOT THE CONCEPT like PANDORA SELECTIONS with thumbs up and thumbs down..... there is intuitive, observable, enigmatic guidance that teachers can offer that key stroking will NEVER be able to read

 Personalized learning must be personal, as in HUMAN, taught by humans to humans in a human (and humane) way. Much of the most important understandings we achieve as humans are about what fully-developed humans know, can do and what they care about. If I want to learn to read I need to learn from an expert reader, as the reader's apprentice, learning the posture, the attitude, the state-of-mind, the attentiveness and the thoughtfulness of my reading hero. I need to emulate the master and strive to be like her/him. I need to love books, share stories, find real human, personal connections in narratives and struggle through the vagaries of the language until it all flows into meaning. I need a learning space (classroom) that is safe, personalized, and conducive to the relational work needed to have human and humane learning. I need to have a small class so that all learners in my group can build a relationship with my expert leader and so my leader can know me as a person and a learner and help me in personal and specific ways.

 Technology can have a role in this personalized classroom but always and only as tools used by expert teachers and by students. The teacher, the professional expert, is always the executive in charge of the pedagogical decisions regarding the students' programs of study, never usurped by some machine-based script that cannot fathom the mind and soul of the student or make wise decisions about students' needs.

 Personalized has as its root the word "person" implying a real, human learner and a real, human teacher. A teacher who is trained in the ways children learn and who can interact with the child's emotions, encourage them when they are afraid to try and celebrate their attempts and successes.



 Personalized learning has been around since the beginning of human kind. For me public law 9142 holds  federal government feet to the fire in that it ensures free appropriate public education for all regardless of disability. That means a person not a computer. The teacher or intervention specialist as I'm now called starts teaching a student at their level and adjusts or adapts as I see a student succeed or struggle. I taught multiply disabled students how to solve equations using their name and mats. A computer couldn't have done that. My students need a person to connect with as often their parents are absent or cannot connect. There are so many of life's lessons my students have learned in those teachable moments. A computer can't do that.

The way it was introduced to us at year-start convocation: students get to learn at their own personal pace without being slowed down by slow classmates or boring teachers with bad breath. On the video for it, children on computers smile, children describing regular classes frown. There was something in our video--which seemed to be meant more for admins than teachers--where it mentioned that the greatest thing about personalized learning is that it allows the teacher/student interface to be documented and scrutinized. "I need you to learn x--how do you want to do it?" "I chose method a" "great go do it." "I did it." "Here's a test to make sure you got it" "great! That test was easy"--that whole thing will be under the easy scrutiny of data-mining supervisors.

 Flowers that need sun are planted in the sun. Flowers that need shade are planted in the shade. Some bloom in spring, others in the fall. My cucumbers are ready in August, but last year I harvested them in September. They were not ready. We don't expect plants to all be one set way, or respond in a particular way. We meet each student at their place and bring them through the journey at their pace, bringing to that journey what they need to succeed at each turn.

Personalized learning is knowing each student's strengths and weaknesses. Personalized learning is grouping students by those strengths and sometimes weaknesses. Personalized learning is sharing what I know about each student with the classroom teacher and the child's parent. Personalized learning is taking each student from where they are to where they need to go.





 Most kids learn best if they like the teacher and they feel, the teacher likes them back, cares about them. Nothing replaces a teacher who enters the class and the kids immediately feel, the teacher wants to be there, wants to teach them, wants to pick their brains, curious about what they have to say. Kids rarely like a subject for the subject's sake, they like it because of the teacher. So class size does matter: it's difficult to get to know and care about more than 15 kids.

 Personalized learning means I don't tell my students what to think. I teach my students HOW to think and I allow them to form their own ideas.

 Allowing kids choice in the classroom: topics, books, modes of assessment, etc. while still working toward appropriate learning target/standard.

Knowing my kids and being able to differentiate. I do not depend on online learning.

 Having a personal relationship with each of my students and thereby, knowing what motivates each student as a unique individual, knowing in which ways each child learns most effectively and also knowing in which areas (of life as well as learning) each child struggles. Using that personal relationship and knowledge to most effectively tailor instruction to assist that child in reaching their potential.

 Personal learning is tailoring a lesson to help the child learn a specific skill where s/he is having difficulty.

 The professional educator teaches with or without any technology. They teach when the moment arrives and reteach until their student understands enough to feel successful and move forward. They listen with their ears, eyes, minds and hearts. And, unlike any piece of technology, they know exactly when to change their tone and/or smile.

Recent studies show that reading comprehension is reduced when text is read on the computer as opposed to reading the same text in paper format. To me personalized learning is leaning that takes each student from their current level (any subject) to the highest possible level they can achieve during the time (year/semester) allotted.

 Personalized learning is constantly monitoring student achievement and using that information in developing and implementing strategies to meet individual strengths and needs.

Knowing students well enough to push and let them struggle at the right moment and to know why.

Student-teacher time is the best learning

Personalized learning is about the children in front of you; where are they; where do they need to go; how can you get them there and ignite a passion in them. 


The pressing question for the American public is this - What type of personalized learning would you want for your children?

Corporate Reform Personalized Learning?



Teacher Defined Personalized Learning?


1 comment:

  1. We live in a world where people become teachers with online certification programs. Personalised learning experiences are just dreams.

    ReplyDelete