Students sit in perfect rows, raise their hand when asked to, stand, sit, write, answer when they are told. This is called classroom discipline…and let me tell you it’s a thing of the past. Every TV show that your students watch tells them to be different, to be unique, and to flatter their talents not shut them down…but that’s not what teachers are telling us. Teachers tell us to write about a certain subject. They tell us to stand in perfectly straight lines, and communicate only when allowed. While some discipline and order is required for a functional classroom…when do we draw the line?
Personalized learning is the approach that I decided to research and use in my classroom. I plan to teacher older students from ninth grade to college level, and having been in these classrooms know what it feels like to seem controlled or as if you are not an adult but rather a first grader. Not only is this a painful experience, but at this age, you should be allowed to express your ideas and feelings. Instead of being told when to write about…you should have the option to write in the realm of your teacher’s ideas. Let’s say you’re lesson is based on authors before the 1800’s. Instead of assigning an author to each student let them decide who interests them. Give your students the freedom to explore that author any way that they would like to and divide up their study in their own way.
Another way to apply personalized learning in your classroom is to allow students to learn in their own way. Let’s say that six of your students learn best when you lecture and speak to them, fourteen of your students learn best when hands on, and five of them learn best when watching videos, and seeing examples, how do you apply all three in your classroom? Split them up! Move desks together and allow students to teach each other while you observe. For the kinetic learners, have them make a poster, use models, or draw pictures, for the aural learners, give them laptops where they can watch videos, and listen to lectures online, and for the visual learners, show videos, and write out notes that will help them learn. This way no student feels left out, but they can all contribute and learn in their own group. While you must take the role as a teacher in your classroom, it is always a good idea to let students roam on their own when you have established the idea of the lesson.
When using a personalized learning classroom you will find that there might be a lot of noise, but have no fear…this means collaboration! You might not have full control…but do not worry, this means creativity and leadership. You may not be the ultimate source of learning, but do not fret…this means that you are evolving your classroom. This approach means that your desks will not be in perfect lines… your students will not be raising their hands, and sitting in straight lines…but this is good. This is the new idea, the new classroom. Students need change and you can be that change!