We hear a lot about ‘personalized learning’ – the importance of reaching every student at their level, including their interests and passions, and giving them choices. This isn’t really a new concept. Teachers have been trying to do this forever, and the only difference is that we now have tools to do this more efficiently and effectively than we could before.
When we started working with the schools, we thought “personalizing learning” was our end goal. Once each student had access, teachers could personalize in ways the couldn’t before.
The more we work with these schools, we find ourselves gravitating toward a bigger question: How do we create confident learners?
The thing is, “personalized learning” isn’t our end goal. Creating learners is. Personalized learning is just the approach we use to get there – and we can personalize, personalize, personalize . . . but at the end of the year, if we haven’t created learners, we haven’t actually achieved our goal.
We all know learners. They exist in classrooms, and they exist outside of classrooms. They are the ones who figure out how to fix their dryers by watching YouTube videos, or they figure out how to do their taxes by reading blogs, or they pick up new hobbies and careers by finding mentors and friends.
They’re confident. They’re thoughtful. They’re proactive. They’re also really, really good at three parts of the learning process.
As we think about the learning happening through the Verizon Innovative Learning schools project, we realize that all of our teachers and students are on a spectrum; some see themselves as “learners” while others still see themselves as pupils who let school or professional development happen to them.
Yes, we want to personalize how we support our teachers and students. But even more, we want make sure we stay focused on creating “learners” so they feel confident tackling challenges on their own.