21st Century Literacies

Teachers Changing the Way We Read, Write, Think, and Live

One Size Does NOT Fit All: Customizing Education Rather than Standardizing it

Presently the education system is dipping their toes into the white waters of personalization and individualization in education for students and teachers. It’s a fast moving current, as our society is constantly changing, but hanging on to standardized education will only hold back what could be an amazing ride.


Personalization of Education

Will Richardson discusses the personalization of education for both students and teachers in his blog entry, “Personalizing Education for Teachers, Too”. A teacher’s role, Richardson maintains, is to “help [students] find what they love to do more than anything else and then support them in their learning endeavors that surround this topic”(Richardson 9). So, how do educators personalize education while fulfilling the state’s standardized requirements?

Choice Based Learning

One option is choice based learning, giving students the opportunity to make decisions that can implement their own interests into the classroom. Objectives of daily learning as well as full unit objectives in the ELA classroom do not have to require one general and standardized text; it can be individualized through CHOICE. Students have a range of reading and understanding abilities as well as interests; it is up for teachers to allow children to explore what they are passionate or curious about. Another type of choice based learning is allowing students to present information in different mediums, such as in writing, orally, through video, through audio, in a PowerPoint, in a set of images, etc. This gives students the opportunity to explore technological tools available to them for exhibiting subject material or projects.

Teachers Need Personalization TOO

Richardson focuses on the issue that teachers’ professional development reflects the same kind of standardized as the public education system: “So much professional development is throwing everyone in a room and having them learn the same stuff.” Educators are not only teachers, but also model learners, but where is their individualization?

Annual Goals

One step in the right direction is incorporation of annual goals for teachers’ individual needs. A goal may pinpoint a weakness, then step-by-step work through it to be a stronger and more effective teacher. This also opens the opportunity for a teacher to implement their interests or passions. An English teacher whom has a passion for creative writing and has always wanted a way to share student’s creative writing, parents, and the community, may create a goal to make a public blog for the class or grade level to publish creative writing pieces by students for the public to read. This project develops education with digital technology as well as connects to parents and the outside community. Combining these factors motivates students to work harder and take pride in their writing because it is publicly viewed.

In conclusion, it is time for educators as well as professional development to make the leap into customizing learning to push all learners to their fullest knowledge potential. The workplace isn’t standardized, why should education be?

Will Richardson's "Personalizing Education for Teachers, Too"


Views: 35

Tags: #education, #individualizingeducation, #professionaldevelopment

Comment by Ben Pisani on October 9, 2013 at 7:45pm

Victoria, I like your response to this blog post.  I also agree that standardization can be a bad thing.   Creating goals for the teacher is a fantastic idea.  As a historian, I think it would be a great idea for the social studies teachers to engage in research.  This has the potential to keep their skills sharp, and to make sure that they are lifetime learners.  An idea I had for historians was to engage the students with local history.  This type of personalization has the potential to keep the students interested, as the history of their region is something they can connect on.  Do you have any tips for history educators?

Comment by Courtney Brown on October 14, 2013 at 12:53pm

Tori, great article! It's so interesting that in a time in Education where technology and professional experiences proves that individualization is the best way to teach and to learn, standardized tests and generic modules are ruling the lesson plans of educators!  You posed a good question about educational self development too.  I don't look forward to the initial Staff day each year at school because it's always just that, being thrown into a large room being talked at, sometimes there are fun activities, but unfortunately that's not always the case.   I enjoy our second staff development days more because they are spent in the classroom doing what needs to be done. I get to focus on the needs of my classroom and my students.  Keeping in mind that the focus of these days are not to catch up, but to plan ahead.  Having a goal in mind, with a desire to expand yourself and your classroom as well. 

Comment by Kerri Valesey on October 14, 2013 at 5:53pm

Victoria, I couldn't agree more that individualization is the key for creative and innovative students. Seeing that different people learn differently, educators are already encouraged to differentiate instruction to reach all types of learners.  People are more motivated when they are encouraged to be individuals and to tackle problems at their own rates. I love that you point out that students need choice based learning/instruction so that they can become more engaged. They will be more interested and engaged with materials that they choose themselves! Awesome connection to teachers' goals. I think that if we, as educators, model for our students the kind of learning that we regularly commit to, they will be more inspired to commit to their own education.

Comment by John Brewer on October 17, 2013 at 3:23pm

Tori, I like your analysis of Richardson's work.  I feel that by seeking to personalize a student's education, educators will receive much more effort from students.  Rather than forcing them into a cookie-cutter mold, this would provide teachers with an opportunity to help students discern their own language identities by permitting more freedom.  It may sound rather simple, but I also like how you pointed out that teachers should maintain year long goals.  This is a great way of examining our work as educators and also critiquing ourselves.  If we want to be successful educators, then we should strive to improve each day, month and year.  The best way of doing this in my opinion is by setting goals and then evaluating why we may have fallen short or where we may have achieved some success.  Great post!


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