Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Change Train

There is no doubt about it. The "Change Train" has arrived, it doesn't have a reverse gear, and the caboose is no where in sight.

As I coach my staff through the current round of evaluations, much of the the discussion is centered around differentiation and (or?) personalized learning. Our admin team and evaluation committee have been trying to frame the OTES rubric into this perspective: "think of developing, skilled, accomplished as traditional, differentiated, personalized."   We believe having a majority of our teachers in the skilled domain truly differentiating, formatively assessing, and meeting the needs of all students will add value to our students. 

     I am trying to wrap my mind around what I am catching a glimpse of on the horizon.  These are some key phrases in the current OTES rubric and many educators and upper level policy makers are keeping these ideas on the forefront in their connected online communities:
   Student led      Accurately connects data to specific instructional strategies    Plan for specific strategies, content and delivery that meet the needs of individual students      Independent, collaborative support    Project based     Student ownership       Family partnerships     Trends and patterns in individual student progress
     I am concerned that many teachers, myself included, may have trouble defining what a personalized learning environment really looks like, let alone trying to create it with the same learning spaces and resources that were designed for traditional learning. 

   I may not  know for some time exactly how to help my staff create personalized learning spaces, or yet find and allocate resources to accomplish this, but I know what personalized learning is not. 

     It is not suddenly and randomly assigning new website skill sets to every student with little regard for what they have already mastered.  It is not taking the same old project assignments where everyone "makes" the same thing, turns them in by the same deadline, but adding a new, irrelevant twist to it. 

I have no doubt that we will figure it all out, and that our students and teachers will be better because of it. And we're not going to "just add glitter, either."
All Aboard!