Sunday, June 9, 2024

Personalize: Meeting the Needs of ALL Learners

Fate has a funny way of bringing together people with similar views and passions. In March of 2022, I worked with a school system in Provo, Utah. During a roundtable discussion, I was asked to discuss key aspects of personalized learning that are critical to successful implementation.  There were a lot of people in the room who listened to what I had to say and seemed to be hanging on every word.   Little did I know that a secondary principal from a different school system was in attendance who had been blazing her own trail with personalized learning and would later share the journey of her school.  Unbeknownst to me was how intrigued she was by what I shared. 

After facilitating a presentation later that day, the principal introduced herself to me, and we started a lengthy conversation on aspects of personalization.  Shortly after, I was contracted to work with that school in a coaching role.  Over the next two years, I witnessed firsthand competency-based practices that I had never seen implemented so effectively at scale. However, the firecracker of a principal saw an opportunity for her and the school to still grow their personalized practices.  That leader was Nicki Slaugh, my co-author of our book Personalize.   Once I saw personalization through her lens and that of her staff, I immediately knew we needed to collaborate. The rest is now history. 

My chance encounter with Nicki eventually led to the idea of writing this book after my first year of coaching.  Our goal is as simple as it is profound in that personalization is based on ALL students getting what they need when and where they need it to learn.  Packed with practical examples, research-based strategies, and stories, any educator can find the most effective way to personalize learning.  Here is the synopsis:

Not Just One Way

Are you an educator stuck in the traditional teaching or leadership mold, yearning for a spark to reignite your passion? Do you want to use your time better and work smarter, not harder? Personalize is your guide to transforming classrooms into dynamic hubs of exploration and discovery. This book invites you to break free from the "one-size-fits-all" approach and embrace the potential of personalized learning, where all students get what they need, when and where they need it to learn. 

Imagine a classroom where all students’ unique strengths, interests, and opportunities for growth are recognized and nurtured. Where the rigid structures of traditional education give way to flexible, student-centered learning environments. "Personalize" provides the tools and strategies to create such a space, fostering creativity, critical thinking, and a genuine love for learning.

Dive into how personalized learning can revolutionize education through real-world examples, research, practical advice, and inspiring stories. You'll learn how to leverage high-agency strategies (voice, choice, path, pace, place), technology including artificial intelligence (AI), data, and innovative teaching methods to meet each student's individual needs, ensuring that no learner is left behind. The book also emphasizes the importance of building strong relationships and a positive school culture to support these changes.

Personalize is not just a book; it's a movement towards a more inclusive, engaging, and effective culture. Whether you're a teacher, administrator, coach, or librarian, this book will inspire you to make bold moves that challenge the status quo and bring out the best in your students. 

Join the revolution. Embrace the journey of personalization and witness the transformative impact on your students and your educational career. Your path to rekindling the joy of being an educator starts here.

While we hope that the description above piques your attention, there are some features of the book that we would like to call out: 

  • This book is structured so that you can either read from cover to cover or choose a particular chapter that is of specific interest or represents a needed opportunity for growth. We did this because there is no right or best way to personalize. 
  • Each chapter is supported by research, practical strategies, and anecdotal stories for essential context. 
  • At the end of each chapter is a summary section titled “Bold Moves.” These are courageous decisions that break away from traditional methods and push boundaries. They involve calculated risks and innovative solutions to address challenges and empower student growth through personalization. The questions in these sections are meant to inspire bold actions. 
  • A digital appendix fleshes out how to effectively personalize and what it could look like across various grade levels and content areas. Get ready for lots of practical examples.
  • There is a call to action throughout the book, empowering educators to share their successes with personalized learning using the hashtag #personalize across social media networks (Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, LinkedIn). Please tag us; we will constantly add more examples to the appendices. 

Working on this project with Nicki, a true practitioner who has embraced bold moves throughout her journey to personalize learning was such a joy.  We hope this book will inspire, challenge, and motivate you to continue to be the best iteration of yourself of those students you serve.

You can get your copy of Personalize: Meeting the Needs of ALL Learners on Amazon. There is an impressive discount on bulk orders. If interested, email for more information.

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