Over the next few days, I’ll have the opportunity to think a bit more deeply about a few key concepts as they relate to my school. And I have to admit a bit of a weakness on my part, with the hope that I’ll strengthen it with the help of you, the reader.
First, the concepts. Right now there are three which aren’t completely clear and distinct in my mind. The first of these is Personalizing Learning (as opposed to personalized, which implies its complete, done), which is one of the major goals of our BCEdplan. Now I’ve probably done it numerous times in various degrees, seen it done well, and read about it too. I’ve researched many schools such as New York’s School of One, and tried to piece together all the bits so that I’ve got a clear concept which is distinct from the other two (individualizing and differentiating). It’s like I don’t have the Venn diagram yet for these three. As an educator, I know the value of understanding concepts in their full depth, and exploring all the edges of them. And these are three I don’t fully understand their breadth.
Here’s the weakness which you may be able to relate to and help me with. I often fall into the trap of thinking my job is to implement these “new flavors”, when in fact all I really need to do is encourage the deepening of current practice. And I’m sure I’m not the only one who does this. We reify these concepts (personalizing, differentiating, individualizing), turning them into discrete, stand-alone ideas, disembodied from the classroom. Then, we use them prescriptively; suddenly, we are given the task of Personalizing learning, or, whatever may be the case. In that circular path, I see so much of our time being wasted, and a mistaken approach to thinking about teaching and learning. I’ve also come to understand how this intellectual space is often filled by someone who’s trying to sell you something.
With the wisdom of experience, and having seen this cycle happen many times, I’ve learned the better question is often, How are we already doing this, and what are valuable next steps? Who do we know who’s one step ahead of us, and how can we connect with them to leverage their knowledge? It’s not about implementation; it’s about believing you’re already doing it and identifying how to take it to the next level.
So, that’s where I hope you can help me. What have you done to Personalize the learning for your students, and what’s your next steps? How do you understand what this idea means for you and your students, and what are you doing to bring it to life? Include your ideas in the comment space below, and/or tweet them to the hash tag #personalizing.