What are you passionate about? What interests drive you to learn? What social or emotional challenges impact your ability to learn? And why is this important?
Fostering a classroom environment in which teachers are able to answer these questions about and with their students creates the relational foundation for a successful Personalized Mastery Learning (PML) classroom.
Second grade Aveson School of Leaders (ASL) advisor, Corrie Slay, uses her daily thirty minute advisory time to build relationships with her students and to explicitly teach social emotional skills that help her students do their best learning in a positive environment. Her investment of instructional time to social emotional learning and relationship building pays off throughout the day in the PML classroom. What does that look like? She greets her students at the door daily, engages them in lessons from the MindUP curriculum, explores a growth mindset through lessons like Brain City and answers open-ended Key Jar questions. These are all building blocks for the relational foundation that Ms. Corrie’s effective PLM classroom is built on.
A commitment to a strong daily advisory also helps Ms. Corrie’s second graders to identify and share their own passions, strengths and interests. Content learning rooted in, or connected to, a student’s interests and passions embodies the relevance that is a key aspect of Personalized Mastery Learning. By knowing each student well, she can help students to select “just right” books that are not only an appropriate reading level, but also tap into a favorite hobby or interest. While it may seem like a small detail to know and remember which student loves cats, and which one is passionate about soccer, these insights facilitate reading and writing opportunities that are both interesting and relevant to her students.
Educators at many schools often feel pressed for instructional time and pulled by competing interests. Squeezing social emotional learning out of a classroom’s daily routines and getting to know students is challenging. Teachers can start to establish relationships by slowing down the beginning of the day and greeting students individually as they enter the classroom. Then take a few minutes to check in with students to hear their thoughts, discuss their passions and build a relational classroom. You will begin to see how this extra effort opens the possibility for deeper learning and allows more space to reconfigure classrooms in the Personalized Mastery Learning model.
As a PML coach at Aveson, I look to Ms. Corrie’s classroom as one of many examples that shows the value of prioritizing and committing to relationship building, teaching social emotional skills and establishing relevance. Look for future RelevantED posts as we explore individual stories of how this commitment positively impacts student learning.