Hannah Gbenro

Optimizing Learning for the Long Run

People say that life is like a marathon, not a sprint. I believe a students' pre-kindergarten through 12th grade education is similar—it's a marathon, not a sprint. As students evolve during their educational careers, they are taught to leverage strengths, use specific strategies that often lead to success, and internalize their learning.

One thing I've learned about marathons is that, while every participant aims for the finish line, participants use different approaches, paces, and supports. Similarly, all students in preK–12 systems are aiming toward the finish line of graduating high school college-ready. In order to make the marathon of preK–12 education a success for each student, systems that support personalized learning are essential within today's learning landscape. Personalized, competency-based learning environments allow students to learn different strategies for success, transition between walking and running as appropriate, and leverage various tools that help them internalize learning.

History repeats itself. While there may not be a study that mirrors the personalized learning system you're considering, there are identifiable trends found in studies related to implementing systemic change, competency-based learning, and innovative reform.

I've learned that, in order to most effectively support personalized learning opportunities, leaders need to take a systemic approach that honors past research. Below is an infographic (PDF) that compiles trends from years of research and my experiences with schools and districts around systemic change.

Hannah Gbenro is a doctoral candidate at Seattle University earning her doctorate in Educational Leadership with dual specializations in Educational Administration and Business. Her dissertation research is on implementing innovative change and standards-based education within educational systems. Gbenro, an ASCD Emerging Leader, earned her principal credential in 2012 and serves as an elementary dean of students and is experienced in preK–12 site and district leadership, teaching, instructional technology, and curriculum development.

Connect with Gbenro on Twitter @HannahGbenro or by e-mail at HannahGbenro@gmail.com. Participate in her workshop on "Engaging All Learners through Cooperative Discourse" on Monday, March 17, 2013, at the ASCD Annual Conference & Exhibit Show in Los Angeles, California.


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