Mobilizing Change to Meet Learners Where They Are

I just read this post from GettingSmart, and listened to the podcast; Rebecca Midles leads the school systems design team for Getting Smart. She works with districts and networks nationally to develop transformation initiatives. She’s a nationally recognized expert in competency-based systems having kickstarted efforts in four states.

Meeting all learners where they are is the most important message in this conversation. Challenging each student every day. How do you know if this is working in your school? You know if you can pick any learner in your school and they can tell you what they are learning, why it is important to learn it, and what their goal is that day. The learners need to own their learning and you know they do when they are excited to tell you about it. The key takeaways are to meet the students where they are and move them as far and as fast as they are able to. As for high schools, in particular, we are looking for agency in the students. They know what they want to pursue, not based on what they think is right but what they know they are able to accomplish. This is a process that should be going on throughout high school.

My reflections:

This looks a lot like what we are doing in my school. We started with block scheduling early on and most of the work we do involves student lead projects. I would like to challenge my colleges in the USA and say that students in Norwegian high schools work on the highest levels of the framework elaborated by Bloom and his collaborators, highlighted here.  Knowledge, Comprehension, Application, Analysis, Synthesis, and Evaluation. Our experience at my school is that students who choose to spend a year in American high school usually do very well there, but have lost out on something when they get back to our school for their senior year. They tell us they have many multiple-choice tests in the US. We do not have that here. It is difficult to measure the last levels of Bloom if you use multiple-choice tests.

The challenge is to make sure all our students are at that level, but we might consider not everyone needs to learn the same material? I know these are areas where we can do better though and that is something we should continue to work on.

Listen to the podcast here:

Read more about this topic here:

On Building a Performance-Based Education System

Rebecca Midles (LinkedIn)
Mesa Valley County School District 51
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
Highland Academy Charter School (Highlander)
Quality Schools International (QSI)
Lindsay Unified School District
Virgel Hammonds — KnowledgeWorks
Washington Elementary (Lindsay Unified School District)

I would love to hear from you