Personalized learning is a buzz phrase we hear often in education. This pedagogical style is inspirational, and may serve students well, but it often lacks direction.
Many professional development sessions begin with: “Let’s define personalized learning,” because the term is thrown around so often. At Kiddom, we’ve had the privilege to witness many excellent strides toward personalized learning in different environments, but many haven’t yet seen it in practice. So how does an administrator or community measure the pursuit of this practice without knowing exactly how it looks or where to focus their efforts to improve?
In mastery-based classrooms, students become better advocates of their learning when they know where they excel and where they need to improve. The ability to measure performance in a focus area and put that information to practice generally empowers most students to achieve their learning goals. Schools and districts are no different.
For those systems working to offer more opportunities to personalize learning for students, visibility on success metrics makes all the difference in their own instructional growth and professional development. That’s where Kiddom comes in, and we are delighted to announce a new partnership that makes it easier than ever for districts and schools to quantify their personalized learning initiatives.
Kiddom provides both, a team dedicated to your success and a platform for personalized learning, so you have a direct pathway to monitor instructional change within your community. And now Kiddom has partnered with Education Elements to provide an Onpoint score for your personalized learning journey.
What is an Onpoint Score? A “credit score” for personalized learning, Onpoint provides the framework and metrics to help learning communities focus their individualization efforts, including curriculum and instruction, support, culture of innovation, strategy, and so much more.
Providing schools a focused plan to implement personalized learning is what we are most excited about, as many of Kiddom’s educator communities use our school operating system for this very reason. Kiddom’s early adopter program offers benefits to new schools and districts that adopt Kiddom, including training, a personal success specialist, membership to Kiddom’s Educator Brain Trust, and the newest addition, Education Elements’ Onpoint score for personalized learning.
The ability to give individualized support to every student, with wide ranges of needs, abilities, and interests, is an amazing and critical feat to accomplish. With Kiddom’s tools and Education Elements’ reports, schools and districts are better equipped than ever to quantify their own success. They now have the knowledge to target their efforts in supporting both teachers and admin as they cultivate a personalized learning experience for students.
Interested to learn more about what Kiddom offers schools and districts? Let’s set up a time for a walkthrough!
Another exciting year of teaching and learning is underway. And while a new school year can elicit mixed feelings, it also inspires educators and school leaders with a desire to try and experiment with new tools, systems, and pedagogies to make strides and improve upon last year.
Introducing the Kiddom Pilot Program for Schools and Districts
This year, Kiddom is also offering something new: a pilot program to help schools and districts meet their goals with custom intelligence reports, administrative controls, a tailored onboarding experience, and ongoing pedagogical support.
Last year, Kiddom helped tens of thousands of teachers across the United States improve their classroom experience with a set of interconnected, user-friendly tools. Today, teachers rely on Kiddom’s reports because they’re visual and actionable, offering beautiful analytics to fine-tune instruction.
Teachers love Kiddom’s library because it saves them time by giving them easy access to free resources (e.g. videos, quizzes, and readings) from top-notch curriculum providers. Our Google Drive integration removes the need for teachers to use Google Classroom. And of course, students use Kiddom to access all of their assignments, feedback, and progress from one place, on their own terms.
We’ve been laser focused on the classroom experience and it’s paid off. However, we believe it takes a village to raise a child. If we don’t connect the various stakeholders involved in a child’s education, then we’re not meeting our full potential.
Kiddom’s pilot program helps schools and districts plan, assess, and analyze learning more effectively as learning communities.
Our pilot program offers school and district leaders the opportunity to measure the pulse of teaching and learning in their community, beyond a single classroom.
Participants receive custom intelligence reports to identify strengths and areas to improve across school(s), as well as a toolset to make timely interventions. School and district-level controls allow administrators to set up community-level preferences, rubrics, standards, and more. Schools and districts also received a tailored onboarding experience and a dedicated support specialist.
We also work with the pilot school/district to design custom professional development resources and experiences. Pilot program teachers, principals, and district administrators also get to shape Kiddom: they take part in product feedback sessions where their input informs future Kiddom features and services. These benefits and services are free for pilots — it’s the least we can do.
I support educators by designing customized professional development resources for those seeking to improve their practice. To plan meaningful learning for educators, I bring my own experiences as a former educator, both informing what effective PD looks like and what it doesn’t. When I designed professional development for New York City educators on blended learning, I modeled atrue blended learning environment for participants (you won’t believe how many workshops I’ve attended on blended learning that don’t actually blend the learning). My goal was to help teachers learn more about blended learning by learning about it in practice, otherwise implementation rarely occurs. By design, my blended learning PD provided differentiated paths to learning, various online media resources, self-paced tasks, and data-informed instruction. During planning, I ensured every educator that attended my blended learning PD would walk away with new strategies to implement blended learning. Although I had prepared an effective PD, I was surprised by the obstacles we encountered later.
In practice, modeling blended learning the way I had envisioned was a challenge. Depending on where we hosted the blended learning workshop, we had to work around wireless internet issues, websites blocked by proxies, and a lack of tech devices for all participants. It’s clear the motivation was there — the teachers wanted to learn, but were held back due to the archaic, structural roadblocks rooted within our dated education infrastructure. Naturally, this only harms teachers who go to PD thinking they have 90 minutes to learn and explore, but end up with only 45 minutes (or sometimes less). Since roadblocks to learning and lack of resources is not uncharted territory for educators, I’m always met with patience and resilience as we work through the problems together so learning can take place.
At Kiddom, we’re trying our best to work around technology constraints and we’re also learning a lot as we do. Moving forward, we’re providing headphones for blended learning sessions and printed resources and guides for those without a device. Of course, we’re always available for short, 1-on-1 consults, which participants can schedule as follow-up to our PD session. While there’s a lot of work left to be done, we’re excited the educators that do attend our professional development experiences leave our sessions saying, “This was the first time I’ve attended a session where they modeled the practice.” I sincerely hope more educators start expecting to attend a blended learning PD and see the practice modeled. With the rise of tech devices available to schools, more educators should speak up and demand quality professional development on blended learning. This goes not only for Kiddom, but for others that operate in education technology: we must exceed expectations for educators as they prepare students for the workplace in the 21st century.
So I’m asking you, educators, what are the best ways in which you’ve learned about blended learning? What are some PD approaches that we haven’t thought of? What more can be done to bring engaging PD working around tech constraints? If you’ve experienced similar obstacles, how did you problem solve? I would love to hear and learn from you!
Reach out to us for professional development support or to collaborate with us. We’d love to learn more about your school community and its educator learning needs!
When I taught middle school math, I really wanted to learn how to teach mathematical concepts at a deeper level beyond state standards. One year, my administration asked me to pilot a new curriculum, one that emphasized deeper conceptual learning. It was exactly what I had been wanting, but I had mixed feelings. Change is hard, particularly for teachers because we are responsible for youth so we inherently rely on procedures, routines, and structures. Would the new curriculum reflect my teaching style? Would it be rigorous? How would this change the way I plan? What if students preferred my way vs. this new way? As it turned out, piloting the College Preparatory Math(CPM) curriculum would be one of the best professional development experiences in my teaching career — not because of a charismatic facilitator, but because its success or failure was all on me.
My teaching style emphasized getting students out of their seats, turning math activities into puzzles and challenges to build engagement. I actively pushed students to show their work and explain their answers, but I relied on routines and structure more than I would’ve liked to admit. I was missing the skills necessary to empower students to take control — to own their own learning. I was hesitant at first to give up control. I needed a framework (and a little bit of a personal push) to help me adopt these skills for my classroom.
Piloting the new curriculum challenged the routines I’d established for myself and my students. Instead of teaching students steps and methods first, the new curriculum prompted me to present a conceptual problem first, working backwards to reveal steps to solve later. To implement this, I needed clear examples of how to approach lessons, exemplar problems for different leveled learners, and multiple ways to set up a conceptual classroom. My pilot curriculum provided a vast bank of rigorous problems and advice on how to implement discourse like Accountable Talk. The benefits I saw in my classroom yielded a completely new learning experience for me and my students. The conceptual connections became clearer, as CPM intertwined math ideas that were linked, no longer teaching skills apart, but laying the foundation to understand the “why.” In the end, I could tell my students were more invested in mathematical thinking by the way they approached problems in class.
That year was so memorable because I took control of my own professional development, without having to rely on someone providing it for me. It was my own pedagogical “aha moment.”
Embracing uncertainty in the classroom by piloting a new program opened my eyes to what the classroom can look like, instead of clinging to the classroom I’d always known and grew comfortable with.
I started seeing math concepts not siloed into “units,” but a web of skills that students could connect with and build upon. Holding students accountable for how they discussed math showed me I can support that challenge and “struggling” through the explanations was a critical part of everyone’s learning. Allowing students to find the lesson’s objective given an exploratory challenge instead of me handing it to them required me to be comfortable letting go, something that made me nervous (it still does). Later that year, I coupled the new curriculum with blended learning, to further support kids on different learning paths and working at different paces. Sharing my learning with my mentors and colleagues was meaningful as I felt like I could contribute to the learning of others as well. Piloting a new program led me to lead my own PD and helped me get more comfortable with strategies outside of my comfort zone, on my own terms.
Learning a technique and significantly improving your craft doesn’t happen overnight. That’s why we at Kiddom offer personalized professional development resources for educators. We believe in order for teachers to have the best experience using Kiddom, it’s on us to provide the necessary supports, when teachers are ready to take on new challenges. We’re not going to swoop into your school for a day, get you signed up, and leave. Those experiences lead to teachers to further be skeptical of professional development, which is counterproductive.
When you join the Kiddom community, you’re not just signing up for education technology, you’re signing up for a tool box at your disposal. Those tools will be ready for you when you’re ready to tack them onto your tool belt. And they’ll come with the supports you need to succeed.
Professional Development Materials
The Kiddom team recognizes that experimenting with new tools and strategies requires energy and time, both of which are limited resources. We’ve designed materials to supplement your professional development so that you and your school community can facilitate your own PD. Interested in implementing a blended learning model? We’ve got you covered with blended learning PD you can facilitate among your school community. Would an introduction to standards-based grading (competency-based education) promote meaningful conversations about what grades mean in your professional learning community? Here are some guides to get you started. If you need a resource we don’t have yet, we’d be happy to make it for you: just ask! That’s how we work.
2. Personalized Support
Kiddom recognizes how critical it is to receive unwavering support during times of transition in the classroom. That’s why when schools adopt Kiddom, we’re there to brainstorm with you and your team, answer questions, and talk through implementation. In a number of schools adopting Kiddom, we’ve facilitated PD sessions both in-person and virtually, assisting grade teams and entire schools in building strong foundations of shared understanding. We love being brought into schools via Skype to support trailblazers as they support their colleagues. If you need a one-on-one PD consult, let us know. Every classroom is different.
3. Growth and Leadership
When you’re the first person in your school to pilot a tool or strategy, you learn a lot about yourself as an educator. These lessons can and should be shared with colleagues. In this Cult of Pedagogy article, a teacher shares her story about volunteering to pilot new programs, showing that it can be support learning through experience and collaboration. Administrators seek teacher-leaders in the school to share strategies and learnings from student outcomes. Once you learn how the multiple ways Kiddom can support your practice, you’ll have a list of successes and challenges to use to guide others. Leading PD for colleagues will not only be the next step for you, but could be the next step for your school.
My “pilot PD” experience was significant because I accepted the notion that there would be hurdles, but regardless of whether it would succeed or fail, I had to come to terms that I do, we do, you do everyday was getting monotonous; the very strategy that gave me structure was holding me back. I’m excited to hear feedback from educators mastering Kiddom and seeking to lead PD to introduce the platform to others. When you’re presented the opportunity to try something new, it can be intimidating and uncharted, but the rewards may surprise you and even stay with you. Click here to pilot Kiddom, experiment with new tools, and receive PD materials to support you and your professional learning community.
From a young age, I always knew I wanted to be a teacher. As I got older, however, I began to get the impression that becoming a teacher wouldn’t be challenging enough for me or wouldn’t be reaching high enough to match my academic performance.
Perhaps this was because in high school, when my classmates and I began talking about what we wanted for our futures, I’d hear someone say, “I’m not sure what I’ll do, I want to coach football, so maybe I’ll teach or something.” Or something…was teaching so unimportant that it was a way into something better? Perhaps it was learning the difference in a teacher’s salary and doctor’s salary that told me that educators weren’t valued as much as other professionals. Along the way, the image I’d had of a teacher challenging students and igniting curiosity was replaced by a teacher asking students to copy definitions from a textbook. I began to believe that teaching was not a competitive, respected, or prestigious profession. My high-achieving friends dreamed of being lawyers, scientists, and engineers;teacher was not what the “best” would boast to pursue.
Even as I entered the profession, I continued to believe that teaching was easy. How hard can it be? My education fit the standard model of textbooks, papers, class discussions, and tests. What else was there? After college, I decided to spend some time in the classroom before graduate school. I learned about alternative teacher certification programs that supported underserved students and was motivated to make a difference and return to my childhood dream of teaching. I thought, of course I can do this.
My “Aha! Moment” as an educator came not at once, but all throughout my first year in the classroom. My simplistic understanding of the teaching profession could not have been more inaccurate. My appreciation of what it takes to be an effective teacher now came from experience, something that often goes unrecognized.
I learned that teaching one lesson was not enough. During my first year in a Nashville middle school, I quickly found that one approach to any lesson would not be nearly enough to serve my students well. My eighth graders ranged from elementary to high school level in math. This was not unique to my students — in all classes, there are ranges of student needs and abilities that teachers constantly try to address. Many of my English Language Learner students needed vocabulary support, and my students with IEP goals needed modification on assignments big and small. I learned strategies to differentiate my lessons, but learning how to personalize learning for students takes years of practice, and a deep knowledge of each student’s abilities and learning style.
I learned there are differentways to teach a class. My own education consisted of sitting in assigned seats, in rows of desks, where we took notes, and received graded homework. When I began teaching, my default approach was similar to what I had experienced. I soon learned that not only did I want to include different kinds of instructional strategies, but that it was necessary if I was going tomake learning more engaging for all. Later, I discovered small group instruction, blended learning, exploratory learning and other strategies to serve different learning modalities. Though challenging, this is how my teaching improved and my students grew. I saw how teaching is truly an art and a science.
I learned that good teaching goes beyond content. As a new teacher, I was thrilled to teach a subject that I loved. To prepare, I taught summer school in the Mississippi Delta. Riding through town to school, I first noticed the boarded-up businesses and lack of activity. Meeting my students and coming to town, I knew that I’d need to understand more than my lessons to teach them well. I needed to know my students and where they came from before my lessons on decimals would be relevant and make a lasting impact.
I learned that at any given time, teachers juggle many things. Even my best days with my students in that first year felt like I was balancing 10 spinning plates overhead. Lesson plans, questioning, behavior management, differentiation, pacing, and assessments were tasks that required my constant attention. Teachers must be both resourceful and strategic, well-planned and flexible. Effective teachers will excel at many different tasks because they problem-solve their way through work daily.
I learned how many hours teachers actually work. Teacher responsibility is never limited to the hours within the school day. Planning, grading, meeting, calling families, after-school activities, and graduate courses are the norm for hours after last period. I struggled to maintain a work-life balance to start and found from other educators that this was not unique to my experience. I dreamed about the educator summer vacation, then learned that teachers use this time to plan with colleagues, attend professional development summits, and begin scoping out the next school year.
I also learned why teachers begin to refer totheir students as “their kids.”
During my first week in the classroom, my students and I spent time learning about each other. To build relationships for deeper learning, I wrote my students a letter, sharing my background and promising I’d do whatever it took to support their learning. In return, I asked the students to write me a letter about themselves. My students’ honesty, optimism, and promises to try their hardest were humbling and eye-opening. I knew from then that teaching would be so much more complicated than I had planned.
As a teacher, I had the privilege of helping struggling students after class and see them smile for the first time, understanding a difficult concept. I was invited by students’ parents for family dinners, quinceañera birthday parties, and soccer team cookouts. I was introduced to parents as a student’s “second mom,” and surprised with a “We missed you!” card when I was away. Hearing “thank you” from students meant more than any bonus check I could have ever received. I never knew that I would learn so much from them, as I’d prepared for them to learn from me. When someone asks about my teaching experience, I feel an overwhelming range of emotions. Teaching brought me the biggest challenges I’ve ever faced. Teaching was a prestigious privilege, hopefully helping young people prepare for future successes.
Teaching is not easy. It takes a significant amount of mental, emotional, and physical strength to get you through. Teachers are some of the most resilient professionals. Seeing my students faces motivated me to go back to school when I was most tired. The authentic relationships with them motivated me to bring my best every single day. In turn, when I would lose my voice, they would teach for me, when I was having a rough day, they were patient with me, and after they graduated, they came back to visit.
My misconception of the profession has been forever changed, especially now as I support educators with Kiddom. Teachers need help and teaching requires better tools. The idea that teaching is easy is something we must dispel. Today’s teachers will shape the next generation of learners and carry immense responsibility. That’s why at Kiddom, we build technology to unburden teachers with the number of tasks they shoulder so they can support all their students’ needs. Providing the best for teachers is the least we can do after what they do for students. We want teachers to experience “Aha! Moments” with their students and have more moments of joy and inspiration.