Wednesday / May 29

Personalized Learning: Making the Most Impact

We hear from time to time that there’s a conflict between John Hattie’s Mind Frame 2 (The belief that student success and failure are based on what they as teachers/leaders did or did not do), and student-centered or personalized learning. The thinking is that this mind frame only refers to teacher actions related to instruction. In reality, teacher actions that make a difference in student learning go far beyond the formal lessons they teach and traditional classroom management. Teachers create the environment within which learning will or will not occur.

Teachers can treat students as “vessels to be filled” through some transfer of knowledge from the teacher to the learner. Or they can position students to be resources to their learning, owners of their growing ability to learn, and committed pursuers of knowledge and understanding. They determine whether learners will be passive recipients of pre-chewed and digested information or active, co-designers of their learning. Teachers decide whether to nurture students to become independent learners who add richness, energy, and excitement to the learning environment, or let students remain a largely untapped resource in the classroom.

What to do and how to do it

For the past four years, the Institute @ CESA #1 has worked with teachers, schools, and school districts in southeastern Wisconsin to place learners and learning at the center of our work and focus. We’re tapping the power of learner commitment, persistence, ownership, and growing independence.  As members of the Council of Chief State School Officers Innovation Lab Network and as Wisconsin’s Education Innovation Zone, we have designed, developed, tested, and are establishing key strategies for “building better learners” and stimulating effective learning.  Currently, more than 25 school districts are engaged in redesigning key aspects of our education system. This redesign is intended to build and tap the capacity of teachers and leaders across Wisconsin and increase the learning impact experienced by learners of all ages and levels. Using the work of John Hattie and others, we are engaging with, supporting, and encouraging educators to rethink, reposition, and reinvigorate their teaching and impact on learners. These teachers and leaders are transforming learning experiences for students in rural, suburban, and urban schools. The results have been amazing.

Indeed, what teachers and leaders do or do not do makes a crucial difference in the learning experiences of students. This intentional redesign to remove barriers, build strategies, and reshape relationships will help educators become more intentional, precise, and impactful. Once this takes place, we begin to see learners engage as active, integral resources to their learning and the learning of fellow students.

If you’re interested in learning more about our work and the results we are seeing, please join my session, titled Personalized Learning: Making an Impact on Friday afternoon, July 18, at the International Visible Learning Conference in San Diego. Learn how you can be a part of the growing movement to place students at the center, build learner capacity and independence, and transform the ways in which we educate our youth and practice our profession.

By Jim Rickabaugh, Ph.D., Director – The Institute @ CESA #1

Presenter at the International Visible Learning Conference

Friday, July 18, 2014

1:30 PM – 3:00 PM

Written by

Dr. James Rickabaugh is currently Director of the Institute @ CESA #1 and former Superintendent of the Whitefish Bay Schools in Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin, a north Milwaukee suburb. Previously, he served as Midwest Regional President for Voyager Expanded Learning of Dallas, Texas. He also served as Superintendent of Schools for the Burnsville-Eagan-Savage School District in Burnsville, Minnesota, a south suburb of Minneapolis.

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