Historically, teachers have been somewhat isolated in their own classrooms. Shielded from the rest of the building, and even sometimes the outside world, by four walls and a door. The personalized learning movement has changed the way that we think about communication, both inside and outside the classroom. Literal and figurative walls are being removed, letting in the outside world in new and amazing ways.
Personalized learning is not the same “status quo” of education that many of our current stakeholders are familiar with. Due to this, transparency is key. We need to not only educate the youth that come into our classrooms each and every day, but we also need to educate the families, communities, and district partnerships tied to the school. True growth and success in education requires a relationship built with a solid foundation of mutual support, trust, and collaboration. This happens best when classrooms are opened up, shared, and celebrated.
Five years ago, many teachers would have felt uncomfortable knowing that “outsiders” would be observing in their classroom environments, engaging with students, or watching their instructional practices. In our district, it has become the new “normal.” So much so, that teachers and students are eager to share and explain what they are working on. These types of practices have opened up the world of education in a way it has not been exposed to before. Teachers are not just attending professional development sessions to be “spoken at” but are instead receiving far more powerful, authentic learning from each other. With the increase in social media, open door policies, and other technology use, families also have a much clearer picture of what their students are doing day in and day out. It is changing the dinner table conversation from “What did you do today” to “I saw you were working on….tell me more about that.”
Transparency has helped to solidify the commitment to student-first environments. It ensures that each child in our school was truly “our student,” not just mine, yours, or theirs.