We interviewed teachers across the nation about personalized learning. From all of our interviews, here are nine teachers we think you should know about.

The Importance of Defining Personalized Learning

Two weeks ago, my colleague Sarah Jenkins wrote about nine teachers who are leading the shift towards personalized learning in the classroom who are leading the shift towards personalized learning in the classroom. These outstanding practitioners shared their insights and stories in KnowledgeWorks’ paper on the changing paradigm of teaching as we move towards a more personalized learning system.

In that paper, KnowledgeWorks offers definition for personalized learning that includes:

Instruction is aligned to rigorous college- and career-ready standards and the social and emotional skills students 
need to be successful in college and career.

At Boston Day and Evening Academy in Boston Public Schools, teachers collaborate to develop courses tailored around a target set of benchmarks with spiraling curriculum that revisits core competencies. This foundation allows teachers and students to be creative and free to explore multiple pathways toward mastery.

Instruction is customized, allowing each student to design learning experiences aligned to his or her interests.

Menomonee Falls School District in Wisconsin creates an individual student, rather than whole-class, improvement cycle. The district also involves students in creating supports and interventions, focusing on ability rather than disability and demonstrating that the varied strengths of all students should be supported, deepened, and accelerated.

The pace of instruction is varied based on individual student needs, allowing students to accelerate or take additional time based on their level of mastery.

In Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, teachers not only acknowledge that each student learns at a different pace, but also discuss that openly with students, building a strong foundation for lifelong learning.

Educators use data from formative assessments and student feedback in real-time to differentiate instruction and provide robust supports and interventions so that every student remains on track to graduation.

At a school in Janesville School District in Wisconsin, teachers have embraced data-driven decision making and teaching and use data to tell a story of the entire class and of each student.

Students and parents have access to clear, transferable learning objectives and assessment results so they understand what is expected for mastery and advancement.

In Lindsay Unified School District in California, the learning environment allows for transparency between students and teachers and openness to feedback. This cultural norm is aligned at all levels of the district, including parents, students, teachers, school leaders, and district leaders.

Establishing a definition for personalized learning is extremely important for several reasons. First, it lays the groundwork for setting a vision for personalized learning in schools and districts. Second, it establishes parameters for teachers to work within as they lead the implementation of personalized learning in their classrooms. Finally, definitional language can be used to set goals and foster continuous improvement mindsets among teachers.

Read more teacher perspectives on personalized learning in our recent paper, ‘The Shifting Paradigm of Teaching: Personalized Learning According to Teachers.’Read more teacher perspectives on personalized learning in ‘The Shifting Paradigm of Teaching: Personalized Learning According to Teachers.’

Jesse Moyer

Written by: Jesse Moyer

Jesse Moyer is the Senior Director, School Development with KnowledgeWorks. He is a believer in public education working and passionate about family, sports and fishing.

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