How Personalized Learning Works at One Charter School

There must be something in the air. I’ve been writing a bit lately about Trabian Shorters, who founded the BMe Community, which reframes the narrative we so often hear about black men. The BMe Community explicitly identifies black men as assets and supports the work of men effecting positive change in their communities.

I’ve also written about the recent research coming out of UCLA, which identifies high school-aged black and Latino men, who are flourishing in school, at home, and in their communities that are college bound and use words like “responsible” and “hard working” to describe themselves.

And today I read an article about the work of a charter school network, Making Community Connections Charter School, or MC2, that uses personalized learning to empower every student to develop the will and the skill needed to achieve their goals.

How is MC2 similar to the work of Shorters and the UCLA researchers? It uses an assets-based learning profile for each student, and recognizes that each one has strengths as well as weaknesses.

In other words, the students here aren’t referred to as “at risk”; they are instead coached, advised, and taught–in other words, empowered. There’s a lot of self-management and oral presentations, so students get acclimated to self-advocacy through project-based learning experiences, like fundraising.

Here’s an excerpt:

“The demand for making the learning experience responsive to every student’s individual learning needs is accelerating.

Personalization is a growing focus for policy development, technology applications, and educational marketing.

The idea itself is not new. Benjamin Bloom understood the value of personalization in 1967, when his research showed over 90% of all students could learn at high levels when provided with instruction that effectively met their particular learning needs.

Theodore and Nancy Sizer also understood the value of knowing students well, incorporating that tenet in their Coalition of Essential Schools Common Principles.

Today’s education and cognitive scientists affirm that every learner has a dynamic profile of strengths and challenges that impacts their learning journey.

Since its inception in 2002, Making Community Connections Charter School (MC2) has been committed to personalized learning.

Providing the conditions that enable all individuals to become empowered with the knowledge and skills to use their voices effectively and with integrity in co-creating our public global world, MC2 intentionally focuses on students’ gifts and abilities, leveraging learners’ strengths while providing multiple strategies for addressing challenges.

Learning is rooted in emotion; the quality of relationships impacts the quality of the learning. MC2’s design supports the development of an orchestra of dedicated players–students, parents and families, teachers, school leaders, community partners–committed to understanding, coaching, and challenging students to develop the will, knowledge and skill to achieve their aspirations.”

Read more at Hechinger Report.