Personalization Tip #1:
In order to run a successful personalized classroom, you need to establish a culture where students feel comfortable taking risks and asking for help.
As promised, I want to be diligent about sharing what class looks like each week, using my personalized method. This post is about establishing the right culture right from the start.
UNIT 2 is OUT!
I have posted the free release of the Unit 2 supplemental material. There is a vocabulary list, group activities, and many practice activities for students to engage in. Check it out!
Unit 3 Will Be Out October 1.
Now... Let's talk about the first seven days in a personalized classroom. (Well, in my personalized classroom, at least).
Personalization only works when students are comfortable with you and willing to ask questions. In my many attempts at a personalized classroom, I was never really able to get this desired culture at the start of the year. Kids come in apprehensive of the class and you, the teacher, and frankly overwhelmed by all the other classes they are jumping into.
That's why I took a new approach this year. I have always been prone to rushing into the content - usually diving into the first unit within the first three days of school. This year, I wanted something that would get them talking and allow me to interact with them often.
I decided to invest at least a week in my school's "Profile of a Graduate." This is just a snapshot of dispositions we want to see in a graduate from my school (Compassionate, Creative, Responsible, etc). We are trying to embed this more consistently, so I figured this was a good way to start kids on low pressure content.
So, all this week, they were tasked with designing and planning the "Ideal School."
Because the kids were split into committees and given a focus, I was allowed to spend each day walking amongst the groups and getting to know the kids. It also created a less intimidating environment for them to start engaging in class.
It simultaneously let me practice one of the main practices in my personalization style - the idea of the teacher as a coach. Instead of me being up front and guiding them through activities or lessons, they were independently navigating the word. I asked questions when I found them to be stumped, but the ideas came from them.
Our next step - I mean, after their video presentations in - is to have them complete a self-assessment using the POG dispositions. There is no grade attached to this project. They will be annoyed, having put the time in, but it is my gateway to talk about proficiency over points in our overview of personalized learning on Tuesday.
And that's what we've done so far. If you are hoping to engage in personalization in your own classroom, I hope this recap of my first days gives you some ideas about how to establish the right culture. Come back next week for how we transition into flexible work time and pacing.