Saturday, November 16, 2019

How Do Personalized Learning and Student Liberation Intersect?

A few days ago, this tweet came up in my notifications. 
At first I was stunned that I even got tagged (because look at the other names that got tagged) and then I started to ponder the question. One of the most important pieces of personalized learning for me is that we need to know our learners. There isn't one right way to get to know your learners - it could be through Learner Profiles, Passion Pages, on going reflections, conversations...the list goes on. Knowing our learners goes beyond what they are interested in and includes how they WANT to learn. It's that last point that is tricky sometimes because not every student can articulate how they want to learn.

Developing learner agency is a critical piece for me when we talk about personalized learning. As a high school Special Ed teacher, we talk a lot about self-advocacy as a critical skill for post-secondary success. But what happens when learners don't even know what they need to advocate for? That's why student agency is so important. As teachers, we need to provide opportunities for students to learn what works for them in a classroom and then reflect on what works and what doesn't. Many students struggle with the metacognitive skill of reflection so it's an important one to practice. I've really come to love the reflection prompts from Tony Vincent and have started using these regularly.

Back to the question posed in the tweet; How do personalized learning and student liberation intersect?  Assuming that I'm interpreting the question correctly, Paul is asking if complete student freedom in their education is personalized learning. I don't think so. Personalized learning for me means that my learners understand how they learn best and are given opportunities to practice concepts in that way. Personalized learning for me means that learners have opportunities to design their own assessment options to meet their needs but also have opportunities to challenge themselves. Personalized learning means that there is a continuous cycle of feedback from the teacher to the student but also the student to the teacher. Teachers use that feedback to drive instruction and make future decisions about instruction. Teachers are still driving the curriculum but there is voice and choice within the context of the class.

So Paul, did I answer the question?