Joelle Anselmo, Story Editor
Personalized learning is New Canaan High School’s new yearly goal for 2018, and teachers are adapting and changing their classrooms to meet it. All over America, school curriculums are adopting advanced and unique ways that integrate a student’s outside interests and hobbies into the classroom. Accommodating to the changing technology and altering studies to students’ specific wants and needs is the new high school educational purpose.
Principal, Bill Egan, comments on what exactly this idea of ‘personalized’ means to students and teachers alike. “It’s student-owned. Meaning you take a student’s interests and skills and allow them to support their own as well as other’s progress in their learning,” Mr. Egan said.
Two years ago, every student took a School Climate Survey on their laptops in advisory class. Scores were mostly good, yet there was a question that stuck out among the rest. There was a 60% difference between students’ and teachers’ answers when asked the question, “Are teachers meeting your individual learning styles?” This survey concerned the staff and inspired the new objective.
“BYOD”, Bring Your Own Device, which started last school year, is a small part of this goal, but don’t get it confused with ‘personalized’. “A computer is a vehicle to good instruction. It helps to facilitate the needs of what the teacher is trying to do,” he said.
English teacher, Matthew Quinn, described ways he incorporates individualized learning styles in his classroom. He believes that personalized is showing “that what we teach is not confined to this little box of english literature, but is a reflection of culture in general.”
While some students are motivated by contemporary issues, like politics and culture, others are more prone to respond to sports or music. Mr. Quinn thinks that this goal will help every student because, “it allows students to run down a rabbithole of their own interests.”
So far, in Mr. Quinn’s class, he has tried to experiment with this idea of personalized by making research paper topics more flexible as well as bringing aspects of history into famous english literature. “I think that early on when I began teaching I had this sense that everybody had to be doing the same thing,” he said. He has clearly abandoned this old idea and adapted to a more modern way of teaching English.
Yet, of course, there is a harmony teachers and students have to maintain. There is a curriculum that is important to a child’s future, which the student may not be aware of. “It’s my job to balance what I think is important from a subject matter perspective to what students think is important,” he said.
With this new year and new target, the goal is for NCHS students to feel more comfortable and interested in the classroom. Teachers in every subject are changing their class structure and even classroom design to reach this objective. “Together, with our students, we will create and facilitate differentiated opportunities through which we can measurably demonstrate learning,” Mr. Egan said.