by Lisa Welch, K/1 teacher, Kettle Moraine School District
As I think back to my beginning years as a teacher, never in my wildest dreams would I have thought that I would be fortunate enough to be writing on the subject of Personalized Learning and presenting at the 6th Annual Personalized Learning Convening. It’s not that I feel fortunate to actually perform the act of writing this, rather I feel fortunate to be part of the innovation and transformative practices that have, and are, helping kids to become motivated, engaged and committed learners.
You see, when I started teaching, it was standard practice to pull out the file folder for whatever theme was to be worked on or month during the year, and find the activities that corresponded with either a holiday or seasonal interest. You know the drill; we taught apples in September and teeth in February. That kind of thing. While I thoroughly enjoyed teaching these topics, and all the activities provided and delivered were age appropriate and met desired learning goals, I always wondered, did the kids really enjoy learning theses things as much as I enjoyed teaching them? Were they at all invested in the activities or the topic itself? Did they see the purpose as to why they needed to learn these things? My biggest question was, did they get out of bed each morning with the feeling that they COULD NOT wait to come to school? Have you ever wondered the same about your learners?
Fast forward to the present. I am fortunate. I see kids who are eager to come to school. More exciting is that I hear it from them! It has taken many years and a bit of messy change on my part to truly understand how these amazing kids can and need voice and choice in how they learn. However, it didn’t take much transformation for our learners. Personalized learning is inherent in them. I was the one who needed to find the way to transform. Through the practices that my teaching partner and I are now experimenting, reframing and implementing in our classroom, we feel like our learners are now creating their very own personal “file folders” of learning. Each “folder” they create contains their own inquiry, passion and lifelong learning skills. They have the choice to grow, share and create through their own interests and learning styles. We are the ones watching them learn and grow while no longer being at the front of the room delivering content. Rather, we are alongside of them, coaching and helping them learn the content relevant to their needs in the moment they need it. Dental health can now be investigated in February…or September…or even July depending on our learners’ interests. You see, as learners, the kids are discovering that their interests and inquiries can be pursued anytime and everywhere!
We can’t wait to share with you our experiences on how personalized learning has impacted our kids and some of the tools and resources that we have used in our classroom. Come see I SPY Personalized Learning at the 6th Annual Personalized Learning Convening November 2-3, 2015!
Lisa Welch teaches in a K/1 learning environment at KM Explore. She has been teaching for the last 25 year and is truly focused on making learning fun, engaging and most of all, student driven. Lisa has her National Board Certification for Teaching, her Personalized Learning Endorsement through the Institute, holds a Master in Creative Arts and Learning, and is a Personalized Learning District Lead Teacher for the School District of Kettle Moraine.
Image: © Can Stock Photo Inc. / szefei