4. Individualized (The ‘I’ in CHOICE)*
Wherever teachers start, the process should honor it. If that teacher needs guidance on why using a Google add-on might be a better process in her classroom, we should help with that. If that teacher needs to know where to locate his computer’s mouse, we should help with that. If that teacher wants some ideas on how she could use an educational technology tool to add to a lesson that she already teaches, we should help with that. Whatever they need, we are there for them. The process of Flipped PD seeks to find out where teachers are instead of disregarding it. It asks where you want to go instead of telling you where you should be. We start by asking, “Where are you? Where do you want to go?” The process says it’s OK to be you, and we’ll help you become an even better version of that. It champions individual needs instead of broadcasting to the large group.
We also recognize that individuals may not know what they don’t know. It’s acceptable for teachers to ask for a brief overview of several innovative ideas as a way to start the conversation. From there, each teacher can gravitate toward what he or she needs and knows will work best for his or her students.
When we ask educators what they need, and then try to help them get it, we are working to create an Individualized Learning Plan for each educator. There are some accountability measures here where we are again asking for constant progress. We don’t know where each individual will end up. We know where they won’t end up: stagnant.
This is hopefully the opposite of a standardized plan for all teachers. We cannot, and should not, paint our whole staff with broad brush strokes. How can you argue with the individualized plan of the teacher who knows what she and her students need? Giving teachers the option to individualize their learning also gives them the incentive to think deeply and expansively about what they could add to their course. I’ve seen teachers reflect on what they need because they were given the license to innovate. The AP Language teacher decided to create a website so she could curate content for her students. The health teacher just needed her SMART Board realigned, and a way to shorten the URL she needed to share. The science teacher heard about using Google forms for quizzes and wanted to try that along with the Flubaroo add-on to give immediate feedback. The foods teacher wanted her students to set up blogs so they could organize and write about the pictures of the creations they were already sending to instagram on their own. The AP Calculus teacher wanted to create 3D models to help students visualize the problems his students found in their textbook. Even though this is individualized, it is all legitimate, useful learning. And you get a sense that if this were happening in a building, or a district it would be a place of progress and positive movement for students and teacher. Let’s provide support and guidance for this process. Instead of engaging in the counterproductive work of forcing a standard or pushing a benchmark on everyone at the same time, let’s encourage teachers to identify what they and their students need and then let’s help them get it. One piece at a time. One teacher at a time.
*excerpt from the book Personalized PD: Flipping Your Professional Development