Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Personalising Learning



If you go into a classroom at the beginning of a lesson you will more than likely find the learners facing the teacher at the front of the room. The lesson will start and 15 minutes* later the class will have been given the go ahead to do their work. If the teacher teaches in this way for every lesson during the school day, the learners will be listening for at least 1 hour or put it another way, learners in such classrooms spend just over 8 days of a school year listening to lesson introductions. That's for a teacher who manages to make their lesson introductions succinct. Listening time increases to almost 11 days for a 20 minute intro and an agonising 13.5 days for a 25 minute intro teacher. This needs to change.

Lesson introductions are important but some teachers use a lesson introduction for every lesson which cuts into learning time as you can see. If you remove the lesson introduction completely you are left with a full day of learning. Some may argue that introductions are important and I would not disagree, my issue is the time misspent on introductions when many learners know what to do and just want to go and get on with it. Yet teachers are restricted by their current planning which in many cases involves an introduction, main activity and a plenary at the end. For every lesson! I am not using this post to pour scorn on this tried and trusted teaching recipe but to encourage you to unlearn how you teach and to consider not using introductions for every lesson but allow learners to 'get on with the learning'.

Over this new school term I am using a Personalised Learning approach with my class. Every learner has received a Personal Journey which has been drawn up by both myself and the learner. The PJ lasts for one week but can be carried into another week if required. Learners use the PJ every day from the moment they come into my class. After registration they get on with their learning. There are no introductions. Every learner is on task within 1 minute and if you were to have a look around you might find some doing Numeracy, other doing Literacy and others working on their own personal learning project. They can take a break when they wish, they can walk around the room, they can use the floor or wherever around the room they feel will help them with their learning. Some will seek me out for extra help and guidance, I have plenty of time to see every child in the room and provide instant feedback on their learning. And there are no behaviour issues as we have a strong working relationship built on trust and respect.

I have never been more excited with learning than I am now, I have never had as much time to focus on teaching as I do now, I have never had as much time to spend with every learner on what they need to move their learning forward as I do now. And this is only day 3.  Personalising Learning is nothing new but it is for me. I have started my own Personal Journey and I hope you can join me as I post my findings here and on Twitter.