A Vision of Customized Learning

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.

 

2 thoughts on “A Vision of Customized Learning

  1. Jill Spencer

    “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. ” No disagreement with anything you have described. I wonder, however, is school only about mastery? What about community? What about exploration? What of risk taking and stepping out of the rubric and capacity matrix? Does a sense of magic fit into the picture? I know the matrix goes beyond basic mastery, but I don’t read about joy, enthusiasm, wonderment, and discovery I’ll keep reading to find out more. I’m hoping the principle of student voice and choice is not constrained and allows these things to weave their way into the curriculum framework. Hopefully your district is envisioning more than compliance. Thank you for your explanations–they are helpful.

  2. Mike Muir Post author

    Hey, Jill! Thanks for the reminder about how important those (frequently missing) pieces of education are! I think my response is that some of those are secondary outcomes of Custmized Learning. Not secondary in importance, but secondary in that they are a (desired) by-product of when the pace of learning matches the student’s pace, when students focus on higher order thinking, as well as recall, when teachers help students develop those life-long habits of mind, deliberately, and when teachers don’t just focus on the curriculum (the what), but on engagement and motivation (the how).

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