What does a classroom that focuses on personalized learning look like?
Is it straight rows, neat papers, organized...just like in the picture below??
I bet you thought I was going to say NO!!
Well, I'm not because, depending on the situation that could be what a classroom that focuses on personalized learning looks like.
I have been in many, many classrooms over the years and they have all looked a little different. Of course I have seen some neat and tidy like the one above. And, I have seen some with desks pushed up against the walls and poster board projects on the ceiling (yes, I did that).
The point is, I am not sure there is a distinct look of a personalized learning classroom. One has to dig a little deeper to see what is going on.
Take for instance, this classroom...
I see desks lined up in rows but the students aren't. Is personalized learning occurring?
What about this one??
Or this one?
Well my fellow administrators (and teachers for that matter), I can assure you that yes, personalized learning is taking place in all of those photographs. How do I know?
As an administrator are you doing those things? Do you see personalized learning in your classrooms? If not, what do you do to encourage it?
I mentioned before that I have had experience in every level from PreK to higher education. It wasn't until I was a principal at an elementary school that I really started seeing the benefits of this type of learning.
So Admins...what is YOUR role?
1. Share - Find articles, videos, podcasts, etc that talk about personalized learning and then share. You do not have to be specific or share with certain teachers, although you may have a good idea of who would be successful with certain techniques or strategies. But, keep it simple...just share.
2. Suggest - Talk to your teachers and mention certain things that YOU have seen or heard of and start collaborating on ways it can be implemented in the classroom. Obviously this is easier for folks who want to try things but it is possible for others as well.
3. Freedom - provide leave time, cover classes, get subs...whatever it takes to allow teachers to observe other teachers. You can start in the school and then expand outside of the school if necessary. Technology has allowed for easy observation, especially if teachers are willing to record their activities.
4. Support - Continue to provide resources for meeting the needs of that teacher. Allow for an environment in which mistakes are ok.
5. Promote - If someone is using these techniques and is successful, allow them to present to others their successes (and failures for that matter). Be positive about those who try different personalized learning strategies and show enthusiasm. We all know enthusiasm is contagious.
That is it. Pretty simple.
Understand that not everyone is going to be willing to attempt personalized learning in their classrooms (they should). But, build on those who are curious and those who are enthusiastic. Who knows, the ones who are not excited, may actually be converted when they see the successes.