It is the vision of my district (and the others who are members of the Maine Cohort for Customized Learning) to expertly prepare every child for a future yet to be imagined. We look to achieve this by restructuring our schools for Customized Learning.
At the root of Customized Learning are two core principles: that students learn in different timeframes and that students learn in different ways.
We believe that many of our challenges with student achievement are based on the fact that our current school structure does not widely support these two principles. Through our reform work, we will strive to make learning the constant and time the variable, instead of trying to struggle for student academic success in our current school structures where time is the constant, resulting in learning being the variable.
Our vision has students working their way through a well-defined continuum of learning, using their passions to create a path and choose how they will demonstrate their understanding of the learning.
While teachers will still do targeted direct instruction and plan rich, interesting (standards-based) units of study, these are delivered when students need them (and we have the tools, so teachers will know!). Good Customized Learning takes skilled guidance, direction, and coaching from thoughtful teachers, who will place emphasis also on assessing frequently, providing timely formative feedback, coaching, motivating and nudging, monitoring progress, identifying learning resources and multiple pathways to demonstrating mastery, as well as timely direct instruction.
Teachers and students will work together to match student interests, strengths, and learning preferences to opportunities to learn. Ultimately, all students will be successful with our career- and college- ready curriculum, and teachers will be successful in creating learners who are well prepared to go wherever they want with their futures.
As educators, we work in a vocation that, for over a hundred years, has been geared toward the preparation of youth for the Industrial Age. Yet, today, we are acutely aware that we need to prepare students for the Information Age. Where in the Industrial Age, school appropriately developed the talents of a few and the compliance of the many, school today needs to apply a different tact for the Information Age. We need to develop everyone's talent.