Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Carrie's Brutally Honest Thoughts About Personalized Learning in the Kindergarten Classroom ;)

Someone recently asked me, “Why personalized learning in kindergarten?”  Well, my response is a lengthy one, so grab a cup of coffee and relax as you read the longest response ever written!

It all started about a year ago.  Our principal, innovation specialist, and academic learning coach all went to visit a school in West Allis, WI and came back over ecstatic about something called “personalized learning.”  I’m not going to lie to you, the first time I heard about it, I wanted to scream!  No way was I going to make individual goals for every child in my class!  I have 24 kids, how on earth would anyone find enough time in the day to do such a crazy thing?  Right?  I’m sure most of you are feeling the very same way that I was.  Why fix what wasn't broken?  Exactly how I felt. Until I reflected on this past school year…

Ever have those days when you feel like all you do is get frustrated, raise your voice, and are so emotionally drained you can’t even function when you get home?  Well I sure did.  And it felt like it was the majority of the year.  I didn't relish those feelings so I wanted to do something about them.  Just like any other teacher would do, I sat down and thought about the common denominators.  For the most part, it was the behavior in the class.  When I thought about behaviors, I started to wonder what I could do differently.  I realized that I couldn't change the environment my kids were coming from, but I could change the environment they were coming to.  So I brainstormed some ideas, read some articles, stalked some amazing blogs, and created the “perfect classroom” in my head.  And guess what?  The perfect classroom meant that all my kids would be learning as much as they could, would be challenged, and be comfortable while doing it.  And Lord help me if that didn't mean I was going to be implementing personalized learning.  Ugh!  I know!  It shocked me too...and I’m not going to lie, it has been a ton of work...but it’s what’s best for kids.  And isn't that what we are all here for anyway?  If we keep on doing the same things we have always done, we will never see growth.  The old ways may not be broken, but they sure can be improved upon.  Horses weren't broken but Karl Benz invented the automobile.  

I encourage you to read up on personalized learning, challenge yourself to try small aspects of it.  If you’re skeptic, you’re not alone.  Read our blog and laugh along with us as we experiment.  I’m sure there will be plenty of failures along the way.  But then again, to fail greatly is to achieve greatly.  Those aren't my words.  They are probably Abraham Lincoln’s…or Kid President’s.  Either way, here’s to a great school year!