Recognize Common Internal Biases and Dispel Them.
- Above all, I need to cover the standards (or pacing guide) for my class.
- I don’t have time for small-group instruction.
- There isn’t enough time for personalized learning.
- Computer-based personalized learning is bad; the teacher is the best teacher.
Let’s address each one at a time.
Bias 1: Above all, I need to cover the standards for my class.
Modern standards are grade-level standards. They assume students have foundational skills and concepts mastered. If this is not the case, then it becomes increasingly difficult for students to learn the grade-level standard. Making it the highest priority to cover the standards at a school with ELA or Math when proficiency is less than 70% is a mistake; it is valuing equality over equity.
Bias 2: I don’t have enough time for small-group instruction.
Whole-group instruction in foundational subjects such as ELA or Math is not equitable. It can be a part of the lesson plan, but individual student needs must be met. ELA and Math from grades K to 8 need to have small-group instruction built in (e.g., Flexible Fridays, personalized learning flex period, etc.).
Bias 3: There isn’t enough time for personalized learning.
Personalized learning is needed to enable students to work on their individual gaps. It can be combined with small-group instruction so that students who are not working with the teacher are working on their own individual needs. Making time for personalized learning should be a high priority, as it is for students with IEPs. Schools need to get creative here.
Bias 4: Computer-based personalized learning is bad; the teacher is the best teacher.
Computer-based personalized learning should be seen as an extension of the teacher. The teacher is like the head chef in a large kitchen. Sometimes, the head chef chops and cooks, but other times the sous-chefs are executing tasks. Make no mistake: computer-based learning programs operate under the direction of the teacher. The teacher turns them on or off and personally assigns lessons to each student. Computer-based personalized learning is a multiplier of the teacher.