Voices from the Personalized Learning Classroom

by Laura Vitale, Digital Media Specialist

The Institute is pleased to present a series of blog posts containing audio recordings of several educators who are involved in our Personalized Learning Initiative.  These educators, along with our own Jim Rickabaugh and Jean Garrity, were interviewed last school year by Ed Janus, a journalist and historian from Madison, Wisconsin.

Each blog post is framed around a central topic:

  • A new way of teaching
  • How to start
  • What to expect
  • A typical day
  • Learning continuum
  • Changing roles

Each post will also contain some additional resources for those who would like to dig deeper and learn more.

We want to thank the following educators for their willingness to share their experiences, challenges and “ah ha” moments as they navigated the brave new world of personalizing the learning experience with the students in their care.

Jeffrey Allen, Waukesha School District

Nan Curtis, Pewaukee School District

Laura Dahm, Kettle Moraine School District

Chris Del Ponte, Waukesha School District

Krista Krauter, Waukesha School District

Ryan Krohn, Waukesha School District

Below is an introduction from Mr. Janus and an introductory audio clip to give you a taste of what to expect over the next couple of months.

Listen to the audio clip below


Dear Wisconsin Teacher:

Let me introduce myself: I’m Ed Janus, a journalist and historian from Madison. I was asked by the people at The Institute @ CESA #1 in Southeast Wisconsin to find a way to tell you about what they call “the Work.” That is, to tell you about how the movement to personalize classrooms is creating a new educational reality where students and teachers can be more themselves.

With a commission to explain “The Work” to you, I set out, with my recorder in hand, to talk with educators and give them the chance to speak directly to you, in their own voices, about this work. Their thoughtful reflections have been edited into a number of audio segments covering the “whys,” “hows” and “oh wows” of their efforts to create classrooms where they’re free to work with children in ways they always dreamed of doing.

This movement is about creating new kinds of environments so students can better pursue the things that interest them. This means giving students much more of their natural right to be deeply involved in what they learn, how and when they learn it, and how they become proficient at it. I call this granting them fuller classroom “citizenship.”

The series begins with a montage of voices previewing some of the ideas and practices that lie at the heart of this movement. In subsequent posts you’ll learn more about these educators and be able to listen to their reflections around common topics.

I hope you’ll be inspired as I was by these thoughtful people who are working hard to increase the all important human-to-human interactions that are the foundation of education. I hope their reflections, spoken directly to you, will encourage you to dream of better ways to help your students meet the world and thrive in it. I hope their voices will encourage you to build classrooms where you and your students can be more yourselves.


Ed Janus