This week the Institute is pleased to have a guest blogger. In this post George Zimmer, Superintendent of Richmond School, talks about their transformational journey.

It is becoming more apparent that public education can no longer adopt a “one size fits all” teaching philosophy if today’s students are going to be fully prepared for the challenges of tomorrow’s world. Technology has drastically changed the landscape of teaching and learning.  No longer are teachers the purveyors of knowledge and information.  Already twelve years into the 21st Century, it is time our schools and classrooms move forward and take advantage of the 24/7 learning online environment and implement systems that promote and support personalized learning models.  In short, districts must seize opportunities to deliberately transform learning.

According to experts, transformative learning is personalized learning which consists of student profiles, relevant and meaningful learning activities, a technological emphasis, and competency-based assessments.  At Richmond School District, we began our transformative learning journey seven years ago.  Over the years, our model has evolved and it now embraces proficiency based staff development, peer coaching, technological fluency, external and internal benchmarking, and strong team collaboration.

At Richmond School, not only do our teachers set annual SMART goals, but so do each of our preK – 8th grade students.  Each student reviews his or her own assessment data and develops a SMART goal.  Regularly students monitor their own progress.  Each month teachers individually conference with students on goal attainment.

Parents are an essential component of our district’s transformative learning plan.  Parents are informed about their child’s goal progress and they have the opportunity to attend a number of evening parent workshops.

Teachers develop SMART goals each fall.  Goal accomplishments are measured through student outcomes.  At the end of this school year, teachers will submit a 3-5 minute video documenting their own SMART goal implementation and results.  These videos will then be available for all staff to review and study as part of our bigger professional learning community.

The journey into actually transforming learning practices is unique to each school and district.  Our own journey into transformative learning with personalized learning models has been both challenging and rewarding.  As a staff, we continue to find more opportunities to reflect, revise and of course celebrate. We want our parents to view Richmond School District as their school of choice.