Focus on the core belief about student learning and then incorporate multiple instructional practices as needed to support personalized learning.
In a more formal way, we provided our district's teacher evaluation team(s) with a set of blended learning look-fors for each of our instructional practice standards they observe. This allowed for teachers to try innovative practices in blended learning, while still grounding their instruction in existing evaluative frameworks.
From my experience, the key is to focus on best instructional practices and then determine from there which aspects of personalized learning will help in implementing those practices.
At our school, we found the best examples based on research, site visits and successful practices happening in our very own classrooms. These examples were synced with our Teacher Instructional Framework (evaluation) to align our observed best practices with the components of the existing framework.
The benefits of this showed a direct alignment to practices already happening and how they could be enhanced implementing a blended learning instructional model. This process helped with gaining buy-in.
To take a different perspective, one thing to consider when aligning best practices to personalized learning is how some best instructional practices are not necessarily enhanced, or are outright undermined, with well-intentioned blended and personalized learning.
For example, if developing student academic discourse is a focus for a teacher or school, one needs to think carefully about whether or not certain blended and personalized approaches help or hinder the practice. Often times the individual pacing and broad choice provided via technology results in rooms of students plugged into head phones not speaking with each other. Carefully planning ways to preserve academic discourse with specific tasks and structures are necessary to guard against this.
An additional challenge to depth of learning comes with students moving at their own pace. For any topic, there is often a minimum number of students necessary to produce a rich range of approaches, understandings, and misunderstandings. Teachers draw upon this variety to expertly push thinking and help students add depth to their learning. Students moving at their own pace are often on different topics, potentially limiting access to the different approaches and understandings students see from their peers.
In other words, sometimes the best way to align best instructional practices with personalized learning is either to refrain from blending or personalizing them or by thinking carefully how to protect them by balancing what makes them effective with other benefits from personalized initiatives.
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