As a high school educator, I connect with my students socially and emotionally. I need to know where my students are coming from, what home life is like, what their interests are and how I can leverage the obstacles and opportunities they face to help them find success in the classroom and beyond.
I unearth this information by asking questions and taking the time in the first few classes, not to go over a predetermined syllabus, but in building the class and course together with students to find out what is important to them individually and as a cohesive group.
I also connect with my students through data. I need a quantitative picture of where my students stand academically. The more I can understand what skills they are bringing to our class, the more I can tailor an individualized and personalized learning plan that meets their needs.
Gathering this data takes significantly longer as there is no one direct accessible source. First, let’s talk numbers. In any given 90 day semester, I may have 120 students attending my classes everyday. Accessing last year’s standardized test scores in our student information system is a multi-step process, and the data is often stagnant and misrepresentative of my students’ full capabilities. Due to its accessibility, I collect this data to get a rough snapshot of student ability so that I can meet my students where they are when they enter my classroom and help them build their success from there.
There is often additional data housed in other testing sites that require additional log-ins and roster building from the district storehouse. Again this data is unchanging throughout the course of the year, but may give me a more specific idea of my students’ reading level, which, is invaluable information when teaching such a content heavy course. If I find that there are students in my freshman social studies course that have a 2nd grade reading level, I know that I am going to need to alter the supports I provide for them to successfully learn about history and make the important connections to our world today and their place in it.
Compiling this quantitative data for so many students takes days, not hours, and is absolutely essential as it helps me understand the individual needs of my students going into a semester. Knowing my students socially, emotionally and statistically is so critical because it allows me to work with them to design a personalized education plan, ensuring their engagement and success.
This is time worth spent. Isn’t it?
Absolutely. However, I was convinced that there had to be a better way. After a fortuitous meeting with the developers at Motivis Learning, I am happy to tell you that there is.
Through agile platform technology, accessing all of the data we need to become students of our students is quite literally enabling educators to dynamically increase the effectiveness of education. One log-in that provides a comprehensive social, emotional and statistical snapshot of our students and monitors their progression towards mastering competency standards.
The platform is called LRM (Learning Relationship Management) and it is the key to delivering the most student-centered education. There are very few things that could ever take me out of the classroom or away from students, but the realization that there IS a better way to connect holistically with students by utilizing LRM convinced me to become part of the solution.
This year, for the first time in 16 years, I am not readying a classroom, or attending the “welcome back-to-school” faculty meetings, or greeting 120 new students. This year, I am trying something a little different. I am helping Motivis Learning create and deliver a tool that will enable a better educational experience for students, teachers and others invested in the fundamental belief that learning can and should be an amazing, individualized experience for all students.
It’s time we make education accessible and equitable for our students and encourage learning that can take place anytime, anywhere at any pace. The key to unlimited student success requires relationships and technological tools that foster individualized student pathways and support for the students and educators who are working together to design a more meaningful and engaging learning experience.
It is truly an honor to be the change I wish to see in the educational world.