CCE staff and partner reflections on our collaborative work to create schools where learning is engaging and rewarding, and every student is set up for success.
Creating a Massachusetts Tipping Point for Personalized Learning
Looking around the education landscape these days, it seems that programs touting personalized learning, blended learning, or student-centered learning are a dime a dozen. My team at CCE is now in our third year of personalized learning work in diverse, low-income, urban public schools.
What we have learned distinguishes our work from others in the field are three key beliefs:
- that personalized learning requires developing and elevating student agency,
- that blended learning--and the general use of technology--are not synonymous, and technology is just a small piece of the puzzle
- that it is crucial for personalized learning to operate within an ecosystem that builds capacity of students, teachers, school leaders, families, and communities.
Here at CCE, we are also proud of the intersection between our personalized learning work and our organizational commitment to educational equity. In our personalized learning work, this manifests through our rich professional development curriculum and coaching around cultural relevance and the weaving of equity-minded practices through each of our five principles of personalized learning and five systems of support.
The five principles of personalized learning
As defined by CCE, personalized learning tailors the educational experience for every student by embracing individual strengths, needs, interests, and culture, and elevating student voice and choice to raise engagement and achievement. Personalized learning must also take place within the context of educational equity, providing culturally responsive learning environments and equitable educational opportunities for all students. Our framework, existing within the sustainable infrastructure named above, is supported by the intersections of our five principles of personalized learning and our three infrastructure foci.
Principles of Essential Personalized Learning
Competency-based Learning. In competency-based schools, students move at their optimal learning pace and receive credit when they demonstrate mastery of competencies—or learning targets—at each new level.
Flexible Learning. Time, space, and teacher roles adapt to the needs of students through the use of technology and flexible structures, rather than being a fixed, "one size fits all" experience.
Student-drive Learning. Students exercise voice and choice in their learning and co-create personal academic profiles and learning plans focused on student interests, aspirations, and learning challenges.
Dispositions for Learning. With a focus on equity, identity, and concern for others, students develop the attitudes and habits necessary for academic growth and preparation for life in a global society.
Authentic Learning. Students engage in workplace, project-, and community-based learning, with multiple opportunities to demonstrate what they know and are able to do.
Systems of Support
In addition to the above principles, we ensure that schools that we coach capably approach the design process with an eye on the following focus areas: Leadership, Professional Learning, Autonomies, Technology, and Family & Community Engagement.
Why "Essential" Personalized Learning?
There has been a shifting definition of personalized learning over the past few years. At CCE, we understand the importance of our version—Essential Personal Learning—because it focuses on the essential lynchpins required to personalize the student experience for equity and excellence. Our model places decision making as close to the students as possible, and is built on a seamless stream of communication between students, teachers, school leaders, and families.