Saturday, September 12, 2015

Personalized Learning - Part 1: Freedom to Fail

What started as a spark inside of me a year and a half ago has turned into a full grown blaze.  A passion surrounding this idea called personalized learning consumes me.

Last school year I participated in Tennessee Department of Education's Innovative Educator Network.  Fifty amazing teachers came together to study models of out-of-the-box practices that schools across the country were doing in an effort to personalize learning for all students.  It was inspiring.  Each of us were then tasked to developed our own prototypes to use in our classrooms.

So I made a model.

I failed.

I should tell you at this point that I am not good with failure.  Is anyone really?  I'm all about promoting failure to my students within the framework of growth opportunities.  I, however, do not embrace the ideal for myself.  I am a perfectionist.  I am a planner.  I believe that if I am proactive enough, I won't need to fail to learn.

So I made another model.

I failed.  Again.

I made another model.

It was better.

Long story short, last year I failed a lot.  But in addition to just meeting with the network several times throughout the year, we also got to take real-live, grown-up field trips (Yay!).  I saw this exact sign in the halls of a Charlotte-Mecklenburg school and it changed me.  I'm talking CHANGED me!


I came home and set to succeed at failing.  Not in perpetuity, of course.  Just in the sense of giving myself freedom to try.  And it paid off.

Some of the things I did were re-evaluate the way I use time and resources in my classroom.  I also incorporated two things I'd never heard of before: playlists and Genius Hour (which I was also introduced to in Charlotte).  

I am excited to blog what will be our first series to detail how I have learned continue to learn about personalized learning and its place in my classroom.  I hope this will help others on the same path as well!

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