Schools always wonder when are we ready to shift our paradigm to a more personalized learning approach. We have five things for school leaders to look for as they ponder a a move to personalized learning.
1) Clear Learning Process
The foundation to personalization is having a crystal clear learning process that is consistently used across the school. We do not have a suggestion or preference about a specific model, so long as your model is coherent and research supported. The best models for personalization are built out from a coherent learning process.
2) Collaborative Processes
Our experience in visiting schools has made it clear that the schools who shift to personalized learning have a strong collaborative culture. Teachers that are willing to collaborate openly with their colleagues tend to positively transition to collaborating with students.
3) Narrowed the Content
We all know that their are far too many standards in virtually every society. Much of what we ask students to learn is not relevant to all students. Schools that value skills and dispositions as equal to knowledge have reduced the emphasis on the what (content), and increased focus on the how (skills and dispositions).
4) Teachers Experienced with Learner Centered Approaches
Schools that have moved to personalization have leveraged the switch with first experimenting with learner centered approaches on a smaller scale. This initial small scale laboratory allows teachers build their skills in facilitating learning prior to taking on the greater challenge of school change. Some schools imported the experience by hiring teachers who have dabbled with learner centered approaches other places. Either way, the experience is invaluable in the transition.
5) Champion Leaders
The move to personalization is a paradigm shift. The vast majority of your constituents will not understand personalization, nor the reason why the school is shifting. Schools that have made the shift have had leaders that can champion the change. They stand if front, take the heat, explain and re-explain the reason, and demonstrate relentless commitment to inspiring all students to be passionate, life-long learners.