by Carolyn Reeves, Program Specialist
I am very fortunate to work with a group of young leaders from area school districts that are interested in learning about and working toward personalized learning — the Youth Advisory Council. The Council is designed to provide input and direction from a student’s perspective on the Institute’s work and direction. One of their main tasks is to help plan and design our annual spring Youth Summit. Last year the students agreed that the best night to meet was Friday, so these students come from across three counties on Friday nights from 5 – 7 PM to talk about learning and how to make it better for all students. In its second year this year, the Council decided they wanted to change the quarterly meetings to monthly so they would have more time together to discuss personalized learning and to really help plan the Summit.
One of the ideas at the first Council meeting this year was for the students to create a video about an example of personalized learning for the Youth Summit. The students also wanted to be able to see it themselves in person. Although all the students come from districts that are committed to personalized learning, implementation is at various stages and often at different grade levels, so high school students aren’t affected if the personalized learning work is going on at the elementary level. When it comes to understanding personalized learning, sometimes seeing it in action is really the best way to make it “click.”
We had our work cut out for us, but we really wanted to make this idea come to fruition. So on January 30, all but two of the Youth Advisory Council members were able to travel to the Kettle Moraine School District to spend almost a full-day at two district charter schools: KM Global and KM Perform. It was a week with two no-school days because of cold weather, so schedules were hectic and adjusted from the usual, but both schools accommodated and were flexible — a key in personalized learning environments! The Council members were able to see students not just focusing on a passion — international studies or the arts, but owning their learning and often functioning very independently. Students work with mentors to determine their next learning goals and what they are going to do to get there. It’s not about what the teacher tells you to do, but rather, as a student, what you need to do to continue your learning. What a difference! Students are relaxed yet focused and have a clear sense of what they are working on and why.
The Council members were excited to be able to do the visit and will bring those ideas back to the work of the Institute and the planning for the Youth Summit. I can’t wait to see what they come up with for the video!
A BIG thank you to the Kettle Moraine School District, KM Global, and KM Perform for making this day possible.