Personalized Learning at Summit Public Schools

Video length: 4 minutes 31 seconds


[background scenes of teachers teaching children age 6th through 12th grades]


Aukeem Ballard, 9th Grade History Teacher:
It comes down to the idea that it’s not just about what the teacher does in the classroom. It’s about what the teacher can support students in aspiring to do through the classroom. How do we give them what they need, step out of their way and let them do the brilliant work that we know exists in their brain.

Diane Tavenner, Co-Founder and CEO, Summit Public Schools:
Personalized Learning to me means that every single student has a pathway that makes sense to them, that’s connected to their long term goals and aspirations.

Guillermo, 12th Grade:
I guess you’re not running in a track anymore. You’re more running on a field and you choose which direction you run to.

Katie Goddard, 9th Grade History Teacher:
Let’s meet them where they’re at and frame the teacher’s role as all about facilitating an experience, where each of those kids can make their own meaningful progress.

Jimmy Zuniga, AP English Teacher:
They are more center stage. They are not students who are sitting at their desks, waiting to have an education delivered to them. They’re doing group work. They’re doing hands on projects.

Shivani, 10th Grade:
Last year in math, we had a project called Event Planning. I never knew math could be so fun, and the other day someone actually asked me if they would help me plan some surprise party for their dad. And I was like, I know exactly how to do that because I knew how to create a spreadsheet and put in everything that we needed to buy, and our budgets and all that kind of stuff.

Gabriela, 8th Grade:
We do a lot of group work in our projects, and especially because we help our peers out.

Brian Johnson, 6th Grade Science Teacher:
This was a really pleasant surprise was how good the students have gotten at collaborating with each other and supporting each other.

Andrew, 8th Grade:
I think that the thing that surprises most people is about how the teachers aren’t always in front teaching you stuff, you’re teaching yourself.

Arshia, 6th Grade:
You can kind of work at your own pace, because at my old elementary school we couldn’t go ahead, even though I wanted to go ahead so much.

Calvin, 8th Grade:
I’ve learned that I’m smarter than I think I am. I’m more responsible that I think I am. I can stay focused easier.

Katie Goddard:
Instead of saying this is the curriculum that you should learn, it was, okay let me get to know a little bit more about who you are, what you like, what you want. And then let me figure out how this curriculum can work for you.

Diane Tavenner:
That’s just a very human desire is to be known, and to be seen and to be accepted for who we are. And that is really at the heart of a personalized learning community.

Joe Bielecki, Assistant Director:
That is the most important role of adults I believe in any school, but we have the structures here in this model to be able to let teachers actually do that.

Brian Johnson:
Even though they’re kind of owning the process, you’re still owning the space and the environment, you’re still supporting kids and helping kids. So in some ways my job is very different than before, and in some ways it’s exactly the same as it’s always been.

Jenny Macho, AP English Literature Teacher:
Personally, I’m doing much deeper and better teaching, much more purposeful teaching, much more focused teaching and much more differentiated teaching.

Katie Goddard:
My job as a teacher is to help students find their voice and then learn how to use it. So I want them to have the habits that are going to facilitate that happening, like grit and perseverance and knowing what to do if people tell you no.

Aukeem Ballard:
And when we think about personalized learning, it’s not the computer, it’s not the PLP tool that we have, although those are great tools. What it is, is the willingness to say, I don’t know everything you need John, but I can ask the question to find out.

Hadassah, 8th Grade:
Pushing myself, that’s what I think I’m going to take away, because I think college is going to be real tough, but, this school is teaching me how to push myself to the limit, to the max.

[background talking, teaching]


It feels really good because, like I learned all that and I had a lot of patience with myself, a lot of improvement from 6th grade, and I’m so proud of myself.

Durell, 8th Grade:
Actually, to be honest, before I came here, I did not think I was really going to go to college, I was going to go to high school, get a job.

Coming here, kind of like showed me that you are something, and that you can be whatever you want to be and nobody can really tell you you can’t. And it’s just all up to you.

Audrey, 8th Grade:
No matter where you start, you can always become great.

I can do anything up for my mind to, like nothing is impossible, that if I just work and study hard then I could get to where I wanted to go.