While attending ISTE in Philadelphia, I tried to take a comprehensive approach to what I wanted exposure to- from specific device applications, innovative mindsets, professional development/coaching, to security/safety/digital citizenship. One of the major themes that came out from all this was personalized learning and empowering students.
One of the greatest concerns I hear from educators is that there is too much demand and not enough time. Trust me, I feel that all.the.time. I get it. I’m not going to sugarcoat it, finding time is hard. It’s like being a delicately balanced house of cards, and if you place one more card on top, the whole thing will crumble. Last year during one of my training sessions I showed this meme:
Thank you, Jessie Spano, for summarizing it perfectly
I was feeling the time crunch, and I knew my colleagues were, too. So, how in the world is there enough time for personalized learning when there is so much else to do? I wish I had a magic answer for this, but… spoiler alert… I don’t.
I do, however, think that technology can help ease into personalized learning and help to empower students. I know, I know… one more thing to add to the house of cards. But, what if technology actually simplified the process? I want to work smarter, not harder. Rather than spending my time after school placing students into cooperative learning groups, why not have students use a Google Form and select a group that suits their needs? What if the students used this form to explain to the teacher what objective they wanted to meet in class? Rather than me, the teacher, developing a personalized plan for the student, why not have the students form the plan? As a middle school teacher, I know that my students would need to guidance in formulating this plan, so I could set up a form with each component of what they needed.
This seems like a lot, right? But who says you have to do all of this all at once? I always encourage my colleagues to try one and build from there. If you build it, personalized learning will come? Last year, I had my students use a Google Form to tell me what they felt confident about in their writing and whether or not they would be interested in leading a writing revision group in a certain area. Rather than sorting through 120 exit slips, I had everything I needed in a Google Sheet. Next year, I can build on this and have students base a writing revision plan according to their personal needs. I mean, why not? I have the time… 🙂