By Arthur Costa, Bena Kallick, and Allison Zmuda
The true goal of personalized learning is for every learner to become increasingly comfortable with self-direction as they engage in interesting, relevant, rigorous, and important work regardless of age, past successes, and failures. When we provide the pedagogical conditions to personalize learning, the Habits of Mind serve as a set of foundational dispositions to grow effective thinking. Often, we focus on what students need to develop in order to have greater agency over their learning. Yet there are related dispositions that educators can pay attention to in support of students becoming more self-directed and responsible.
The following are five Habits for educators to pay attention to as they grow the pedagogical conditions:
Listening with Understanding and Empathy
Educators strengthen their relationship with students through seeing the world from their perspective and resonating with their feelings and emotions. Educators listen closely as they withhold their own agenda, asking questions to better understand the student’s context as they work to elevate the thinking.
Children do not become self-directed overnight — we need to recognize that this may be a mind shift and that it will take time for students to behave their way into taking charge of their learning. Educators need to take a long-range view and learn how to stay true to those behaviors despite new external demands that often serve as a distraction from what really matters.
Gathering Data Through all Senses
Educators in a personalized learning environment must constantly observe and document learner behaviors, products and processes. They must also pay attention to the learner’s “gut feelings” about becoming more self-directed.
As students are becoming more self-directed, educators must increase their own repertoire of instructional strategies and processes to deal with the wide range of developmental growth.
Educators need to plan for, monitor and reflect on their learning design as they pay attention to how the four attributes of personalized learning— voice, co-creation, social construction and self-discovery — create a stronger relationship with their students.
As we continue to design assignments, learning environments, and dialogue with our students, are we embracing the learners in front of us while expecting independence in their work? Are we growing students’ metacognition of their own learning? Are we taking guidance from them as to possible next steps in shaping the learning plan? Are we vulnerable enough to share what we are working on to develop more meaningful, worthy learning experiences?