Personalized Learning: Start with the Teacher
I had the opportunity to attend a symposium this week, sponsored by SIIA, in partnership with ASCD and CCSO titled "Innovate to Educate: A Symposium on [Re]Design for Personalized Learning." This session brought together educators, technology leaders and others interested in collaborating on the topic of personalized learning.
While there were numerous themes over the two-days, one of the key questions that these discussions and debates raised for me related not to the changes for students, but to the changing role and needs of teachers in a more systemic approach to personalized learning. What struck me was this thought: if we truly want to move to a method of personalized learning for our students, does it not stand to reason that the way that teachers gain their continued professional development as life-long learners must also evolve?
Much of the two-days focused on the fact that the way we teach our children has evolved little in the past many decades--it remains teaching within a box that focuses on a factory model. But couldn’t the same be said of the way that we support teacher professional development? If the goal of personalized learning for students is to meet these learners where they are at and then walk beside them to facilitate learning through different modalities and around varying areas of interests, shouldn’t we be modeling this approach in the ways that LEAs facilitate and encourage teacher development? Certainly there are teachers who proactively seek their own methods and learning communities for continued growth, but is that enough if we expect to impact real change in delivering more personalized learning to our children? Let’s challenge ourselves to consider new and innovative ways to provide the support systems needed for this evolving approach to education.