Day 157 (of 186) from IEPs to Music – why personalized learning journeys are so important
This was one of the “busy days” on my calendar. I saw it looking and starting to grow as each week passed. But an important day as I went through it because it helped remind me just how important personalization has become in education. Most of my day at school was taken up with IEP meetings – these are chances for the school and parents of our categorized students to meet and chat about what’s been happening over the year and what we might want to change on their Individualized Education Plan for the next year. I’ve freely admitted that more and more frequently, though the use of eportfolios has allowed me to have IEPs for all students – because if they are good enough for our most vulnerable students then they should be good for all students (a sentiment I believe Shelley Moore would ageee with – and I am a fanboy!!) the personal narrative of these contracts mean that personal growth trumps the hope that “by grade/age # all students will…… ” and acknowledges that growth is personal – both in speed and depth. And when a family wondered when numbers and grades would be introduced to the kids I was happy to say ” not for awhile” (and internally hopefully not at all by the time their kids enter the “graduating years” ). It was nice to share that in the class everyone is working on their own pathway to success – and success will be determined very personally. Which led to dinner at a horse BBQ – and I’ve been teasing for a fortnight that I was looking forward to a horseburger as I was getting tired of cow. And the girls would roll their eyes and patiently re-explain that they weren’t barbecuing a horse they were having a BBQ fundraiser to help support a local “hospice for horses”. But this service project came from our students and was organized by students with as little interference from adults as possible. When learners follow their passions, great learning can occur and great projects and initiatives can come to grade –> and nobody was asking if the barbecue was for marks. And then I had to rush over to help my daughter with some prep for her final “Big Band” event – a musical showcase with bands from across the district come to “show off” their skills. And many of these classes meet around the traditional bell schedule. My own daughter has a full academic calendar but takes an equal number outside the timetable – because she wants to – not because she has to – in fact her % in her music classes usually being her average down (yes that is with calculus physics and “every science” on her transcript)But it is amazing what happens when kids follow their passions – even when it goes late into the evening (11:00 after cleanup) – esp when a group can take an “interesting song” and make “Cheese on Bread” a school-wide hit! https://youtu.be/snNMj71ZESYAnd even better when adults can model their ongoing passions: https://youtu.be/_FtaJXtHV28So within a day, I was able to see how personalized education plans can help students individually, how a group can make a difference in a community and finally how personalized choices can get people on their feet and dancing <– again without needing a grade or threatening how it may impact the report card – because being compliant for a report card rarely inspires authentic and deep learning. Gotta have passion to personalize the learning journey!!