Thursday, 17 November 2011

Personalizing Teacher Growth

Personalized learning is an approach to teaching and learning that focuses more on the learner and tailors the what, when, where and how of learning to an individual’s interests and readiness.

At Greenwood College School, we are committed to life-long learning for our students and for our teachers. We have developed a tiered model for teacher growth and appraisal which provides intense support in the first three years of teaching at the school - and then allows greater self-direction from the fourth year on.

Teachers in this latter group are encouraged to personalize their growth in the profession by setting annual learning goals aimed at increasing student learning.

What does this mean?

Well, this year, one teacher has set a goal to see how she can use portfolios in science. She will read about and experiment with different portfolio formats to determine which is most effective for students to collect, reflect on and store their work.

The most important aspect is developing a process for students to reflect on an assignment and set learning goals. The teacher will then use the reflection to personalize instruction based on the student’s goals and readiness.

Another teacher is exploring co-operative learning structures and how to use these to help personalize instruction. Different co-operative learning structures can be used in a classroom based on student readiness. Some students could be exploring new material because they are ready to move ahead, while others are using a structure that has them reviewing different material to develop mastery before they move on.

In this phase of the growth plan, teachers select a peer with whom to share and check in on the process. We are moving toward sharing all teachers’ progress and learning at the end of the year to celebrate their growth. In our weekly professional development sessions on Wednesday mornings, teachers share new ideas or tips on things they have tried.

For example, we have learned how a course calendar can be used to allow students to work ahead, how to upload and mark assignments in Moodle, and how to use cellphones for quizzes to check for understanding.

Jennifer Walcott
Director of Teacher Development

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