The Current and Desired States of Personalized Learning According to Teachers of the Year


Twenty-seven state Teachers of the Year and one National Teacher of the Year weigh in on the current and desired state of personalized learning. Recently, KnowledgeWorks sat down with 27 of the current State Teachers of the Year and the 2014 National Teacher of the Year to gain their insight on the state of personalized learning. When you have uninterrupted time with the best teachers out there, great conversation ensues! KnowledgeWorks wanted to know what this esteemed group of teachers is currently seeing in the field with personalized learning but also wanted to know what they desire to see.

What is the current state of personalized learning?

  1. Teachers are utilizing student interests. Teachers are sporadically using their students’ passions to drive learning, allowing them to incorporate passions into products. They are teaching to individual learning needs.
  2. Teachers have an awareness of a need for change. Teachers are aware that something different needs to happen and some are unaware of the possibilities. Many times, this awareness is enhanced when teachers are required to use pacing guides with benchmarks that must be met; teachers know that time based instruction doesn’t acknowledge that students learn in different time frames.
  3. Teachers are utilizing technology. With the addition of 1:1 technology in many schools, teachers realize that students have a wealth of additional resources at their fingertips. Teachers are finding that technology can help to differentiate instruction.
  4. Teachers are starting to shift from teaching to facilitating. Our teacher-driven classrooms are starting to see the benefits of becoming more student driven. Generally, teachers have done most of the talking during instructional time but would like to get the students to do more of the talking.

What is the desired state of personalized learning?

  1. Teachers will meet all students where they are. This will require flexible pacing for students to allow for mastery. Meeting students where they are will lead to increased motivation and engagement.
  2. Teachers will produce lifelong learners. Teaching social emotional learning and growth mindset alongside the academic curriculum will create college and career ready graduates. Assessment will be used as a positive tool for learning, creating learners who are reflective of their learning.
  3. Teachers will foster student ownership. Students will know where they are, where they are going and how they will get there; they will be aware of their progress toward mastery. Students consistently drive their own learning everyday according to their own lives, strengths, needs and passions. As one teacher put it, “students become captains of their own ship.”
  4. Teachers will take on the role as facilitator. They will become the guide on the side rather than the sage on the stage. Teachers will offer personalized feedback to their students and allow for voice and choice to encourage student agency.

Are you looking to bring personalized learning to your district?

Learn more about KnowledgeWorks’ approach to personalized learning. Then take this four-question quiz to find out where your district should take action to get ready for personalized learning.