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The Importance of School Vision in Personalized Learning and Project-Based Learning

Guest post by Ashley N. Winnen, a teacher in the Eagle County School District.

From my experiences, having a school (or district) vision that supports project-based learning strengthens the practice.

Project-based learning for many teachers and school leaders is a fundamental shift in actions. It takes time, especially in the beginning, for teachers to figure out how it will look in their classrooms. One of the most important pieces is to allow teachers the opportunity to support each other through conversations, feedback, and reflection.

When I worked at a school without a project-based learning vision, there were only a handful of teachers using the practice. While we would support each other, I felt isolated. I didn’t always have the opportunity to speak to those teachers and have the conversations I professionally craved to help me create my ideal learning situations for my students. Now, teaching in a school where the vision of project-based learning is reinforced by the actions of the school leadership team, I feel professional development, student expectations, and grading practices are clear and aligned. In this environment, where all teachers practice project-based learning, I find we speak a common language that has allowed me to be more creative and productive. It is motivating to work with teachers who share the same beliefs, and that energy helps sustain the practice. Project-based learning can take a lot of energy from the teachers—it can be a drain or it can reignite a passion for teaching. In my opinion, when school leaders create a vision of a project-based learning program, the process will continue to inspire teachers to create valuable learning opportunities for students.

Read more teacher perspectives on personalized learning in our recent paper, ‘The Shifting Paradigm of Teaching: Personalized Learning According to Teachers.’In our research for ‘The Shifting Paradigm of Teaching: Personalized Learning According to Teachers,” we interviewed teachers, instructional coaches and principals from across the country who lead personalized learning implementation in their communities across the country. This is just one excerpt from our paper. Read the complete paper.

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