On Atlanta’s Westside, it’s everywhere. Wherever I go, I have the opportunity to meet someone with a different background, a different upbringing, and a different life story than my own. Our town’s diversity is in every local grocery store, on every MARTA bus, and along every neighborhood street. And you can bet it’s in our classrooms.
But, with the multidimensional richness that diversity brings to our schools, it also frequently presents us with something significantly less favorable - a big, fat, obnoxious achievement gap.
So, in a classroom where you have the opportunity to teach and connect with all sorts of learners, what is the answer? How do we close the achievement gap that is so prevalent in classrooms across Georgia while supporting and welcoming the diversity of our learners?
In my room, we work to close this gap through an intentional, research-driven model of personalized learning. Every single student in the classroom is usually doing something different. Just as no two students are alike, no two learning experiences are alike, either.
Before you stop reading, call me crazy, and accuse me of planning 43 separate lessons every single day, hear me out. I’m going to break down how I manage a personalized learning experience for each of my students with minimal planning each week (score!).
To begin, each lesson really starts the day before. At the conclusion of each lesson, students complete an “exit ticket” that assesses their grasp of the lesson’s concepts. At the end of each day, I quickly review students’ answers and then use that data to build my groups for the next day. My groups change on a daily basis, which allows for flexible grouping and a higher level of personalization.