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Personalizing Learning: Don’t Lose Sight of Your Why

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Topics: 101, Vision and Culture

Even as we cultivate a growth mindset culture for our students and staff, it’s hard as educators not to want to get things right the first time. That’s the education system we grew up in – aiming for the top score , the gold star, the highest standard. And yet, implementing personalized learning is a process, not a switch we can flip. We’re going to make mistakes, and that’s okay.

As a first-year teacher, I was proud of my lesson plans and my processes. I wanted to check all the boxes. It wasn’t until years later that I realized that even the most comprehensive strategies might require something more.

“Our children are counting on us to deliver on the passion, the enthusiasm and the opportunities they aspire to achieve when they enter our schools. The time to act on personalized learning is now.”

In my role as Chief Learning Officer at KnowledgeWorks, I recognize how important the steps we take to implement personalized learning can be. But at every stage of implementation, it’s important to remember why we want to personalize learning. When we lose sight of our “why,” it makes our “how” and “what”– our instructional framework, processes and strategies – more of a challenge. While good planning is an essential part of the equation, it’s not the whole equation.

As you reflect, work and grow this summer, I encourage you to ask yourself why you’re doing this work. Districts who have been doing this work for some time, including Mesa County (D51) School District in Grand Junction, Colorado, recognize the need to revisit the “why” that drives personalized learning. Ask yourself:

  • What is your purpose?
  • What do you want for your learners? For your school?
  • Why is personalized learning the right choice for your learning community?

And take a moment to celebrate your growth, and that of your learning community. That’s an important part of the process, too.

Personalized, competency-based education helps Lewis Cha, a graduate of Lindsay Unified School District in Lindsay, California, share his passion with the world.