"Personalized learning is exploratory and open-ended by nature, so students require an adaptive, responsive space to maximize success."
Learner-centric approaches and personalized learning transform education from didactic to dynamic. With ownership over the learning process and robust support from teachers and parents, students are invited to rise to the challenge and achieve.
Personalized learning is not a panacea, however. Before your school can embrace any learner-centric approach, you must ensure your school culture and environment are healthy and open-ended enough to maximize your returns. Here are a few “musts” for personalized learning readiness:
Students must see the value in learning
Personalized learning maximizes student buy-in and agency, but no approach can trick students who don’t want to learn into doing well in school. Before your school can confidently roll out a new model, you need students with ambitious goals and an understanding of how school prepares them for success.
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If your students see school as the enemy, they’ll never engage to the level necessary to unlock the power of personalized learning. Encourage students to envision a future for themselves and support their ambitions - that will transform school into a welcoming, useful, vital place for them.
The learning environment must be flexible
Personalized learning is exploratory and open-ended by nature, so students require an adaptive, responsive space to maximize success. If you see neat rows of desks and students completing worksheets in silence when you walk around your school, there’s some work to be done before you can truly embrace personalized learning.
For learner-centric initiatives to work, a learner-centric environment must be in place. If your classrooms are laid out and run in a way that prioritizes management and teacher needs, how can students feel free to learn in a way that works for them?
Communication must be a priority
Personalized learning relies on a powerful, individualized relationships between teachers and students. In order for that to work, your school culture must be one in which adults and learners see each other as allies and assets, not adversaries and obstacles.
If there’s a gulf between your faculty and student body, your school should prioritize mending that relationship before pursuing true personalized learning. Ideally, communication between school and home should be strong and reliable as well.
Confident leadership must exist
Shifting from traditional educational approaches to personalized learning is a transformative, disruptive process by nature. Powerful change requires sharp transition, and for your school to succeed, it needs open-minded, supportive leadership at the principal, district and school board levels.
Learner-centric leaders need long-term vision, patience and, most importantly, faith in their teachers and students. Guiding the transition towards personalized learning is a true challenge, but one with incredible rewards for all stakeholders.
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