While I learned a great deal from those experiences, the one that really had me reflecting was an opportunity to listen to students talk about how blended and personalized learning helped them develop and succeed as learners. These students were diverse, representing many minority groups. They ranged in age from elementary to high school. Some students were labeled “at-risk,” while others were college bound. Some were shy, others outgoing. One student spent his life in a wheel-chair with a respirator. However, none of those things mattered in that moment, because with blended learning they all had the opportunity to learn in ways that were personalized for their needs.
Students talked about getting to work at their own pace, choosing topics they wanted to learn about, and being supported by a teacher who helped them when they struggled and challenged them when they needed extension. Their learning didn't stop when they showed mastery in grade level standards or struggled with a concept at a lower level. They viewed learning as an opportunity to grow, a super power of sorts, which enabled them to do anything they put their mind to.
The students' passion for learning was contagious! All I could think about was what a gift it would be to help all students find their learning super power. How can we create environments where students can own their learning, take risks (fail and succeed), and feel supported? We must empower our students and equip them with tools to be curious, investigative, analytical, creative, problem-solvers, and risk-takers.
As educators, our job demands are ever-changing, but one thing remains constant. Our students count on us to teach them everything they need to know to be successful in the next stage of their lives. While we don’t know what that next stage may be, our students are here with us now. There will always be papers to grade, assignments to give, lessons to teach, a classroom to tidy up, but the next time you get a chance, ask your students how they want to learn. Our students are ready and they’re waiting! Engage your super-power!