Personalized Learning: facilitate plus solid trusting relationships

Mrs. Stephanie Cronin, Seward High School
Educator of all levels of high school mathematics and Principles of Engineering

My role in the classroom is as a facilitator of learning. This role has changed throughout my twenty years as a teacher. From the days of overheads, and sage on the stage in which the teacher passes along information, students sit passively taking notes, then regurgitate for the unit exam, education has come a long way. The shift began with a need for differentiation. Students come to us with vastly different experiences, background knowledge, and abilities.

In order to help every student succeed, we need to determine the starting point for every student, and provide the scaffolding necessary for growth. It is my goal to tailor instruction to meet the individual needs of every student who walks through my door.

The advancement of technology has helped me to meet this challenge. Through technology, students have more choice as to when, where, and even how they learn. They have access to videos that cover the lesson and can watch them as many times as necessary for understanding. There are programs available like ALEKS, and Khan Academy that can determine if a student has any gaps in their learning and provide instruction to fill in the “holes”. Technology also allows for the opportunity for students to advance beyond the expected course outcomes.

2017 Pi pencil holder 3D printer Seward HS

Personalization of learning also happens in my classroom through peer teaching. When students in my class show proficiency on a topic, they are frequently paired with students who are struggling. This allows the proficient student to reach mastery through teaching others, while at the same time bringing the struggling student to a greater level of understanding.

What has not changed in my twenty years in public education is the need for relationships. I believe that building solid, trusting relationships with my students is the key to teaching, inspiring, and learning. My students know that I care about them, and their lives beyond the classroom. I care about their success and their future. I encourage every one of my students to believe in themselves, shoot for the stars, and to have the grit and determination to reach their goals.

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