4 Steps to Personalisation

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A personalised school should ensure that every student and teacher is both challenged and supported in just the right balance to ensure that they continuously grow in ability and confidence.

If you accept this definition the next step is action. How do we move closer to this definition?

In the previous post I gave an outline of steps that could be taken. Here I have used REORDER to make these more direct

Step one starts with a school with absolutely no history of personalisation. The first step would be to...

allow students to make some choices

In brief, using REORDER these may be...

  • Relationships – choosing who they work with for different tasks
  • Environments – choosing where they sit and where they work
  • Opportunities – choosing the way in which they complete tasks, or the order they do them in
  • Resources – choosing what technology they use, what materials or even which teachers
  • Distribution of leadership – allowing them to take on helpful roles assisting others
  • Evaluation – asking their opinions of what went well or what could be improved
  • Recognition – praising effective choices

Alvin Toffler recently described this as his desired vision for personalisation but I feel we can go much further. The next step would be the teacher creating choices for their classes, knowing the students that they have, or the school creating courses or routes for the students to choose knowing their strengths. This is commonly called...

DIFFERENTIATION or CUSTOMISATION. ---------------------------------

In brief using REORDER these may be...

  • Relationships – creating roles and groupings that will challenge students differently
  • Environments – teachers selecting where tasks will happen or how areas are set out to maximise effectiveness
  • Opportunities – teachers setting up differentiated goals and sometimes tasks with different outcomes. For example, “By the end of this lesson ALL students will.... most students will..... some students will....”
  • Resources – teachers selecting resources or creating resources that guide students in specific ways and help them achieve a range of goals. Extension work and help sheets are examples.
  • Distribution of Leadership – teachers defining some roles for students perhaps as experts in different fields or giving them trusted roles within activities
  • Evaluation – teachers building in test items to the tasks so they can gauge understanding and know if they should direct students to the more complex outcomes or reinforce initial outcomes
  • Recognition – teachers praising students based on the route they were right to follow. For example if a student who should have completed the highest level of challenge does a really good job of the lower level then teachers should recognise this achievement differently

The next step would be teachers and schools...

strategically building up the skills of students

at the same time as their subject knowledge moving beyond just content or Eli Pariser's filter bubble. In brief using REORDER these could be...

  • Relationships – watching student interaction and intervening to challenge and support
  • Environments – asking students to demonstrate how their choice of venue for working impacted positively on what they achieved so they gain greater access next time
  • Opportunities – Ensuring both skill based and subject based differentiated opportunities are provided
  • Resources – Some have shorter outcomes with more structured support, others longer outcomes with less support depending on the kinds of challenge required.
  • Distribution of leadership – team teaching is common with students taking a key role in providing shared learning. See also Kathleen's work.
  • Evaluation – Both subject achievement and skills based achievement are tracked so that the teacher and the student can make more effective strategic decisions next time.
  • Recognition – Praise for development of skills is alongside that for the subject and peers play a trusted role in recognising achievement.

The final end point vision for me would be...

every student can earn the opportunity to take control of their education

including the evaluation and recognition. Such a community of learners will selectively opt into the lessons that they need and will provide seminars and learning experiences for each other. Not just external coaching to help them follow their own passions such as in schemes like iLearn but meeting all of the requirements of even the most demanding national curriculum as active co-designers. They will only be given such responsibilities if they demonstrate their readiness. Hence this ideal school will include all of the previous schools with some students requiring very structured support right up to others conducting all the roles of a teacher and assessor.

Which sections of this model work in your context? Which require additions and modifications and, Which require a complete rethinking?

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