5 Steps To Re-Energize Personal Learning in Your Classroom

This post is from PLP Pathways contributor Maura Kelly, teacher at Peoples Academy Middle Level in

Morrisville, VT.

Walking through the halls at school it is clear we are in the thick of it. We are past the start of the school year marathon to the holidays and are settled into our classroom routines, working hard to keep our students focused as we look toward spring. Here are five tips to re-inspire and engage your students with the PLPs:

  1. Give them an Authentic Audience - This is a great time of year to connect with other classes or across teams within your school and have students share their goals and growth to give feedback. This gives an additional audience for your students and creates opportunities for student to student partnerships and feedback around goals and growth. Think about creating a regular meeting between the partnerships and give them a structure to reflect together.
  1. Keep Parents in the Loop - At Peoples Academy we have our second round of parent teacher conferences in early March. This is a great time for students to show their growth over the course of the school year on their portfolio. We have them showcase their academic growth towards meeting the proficiencies and also their growth towards meeting their goals. At this point we have students adjust and set new goals for the remainder of the year. If you don’t have parent conferences now, think about how you can create opportunities where students are communicating with parents. At the Edge Academy they have students write Friday letters to share their learning and growth over the week.
  1. Genius Hour - It can feel like February is the month where you say the word goals around middle level students and they instantly tune you out. Try to get students involved in a personal interest project. This can be a way to build a relationship with students while also having them work on their growth and collection of evidence towards the transferable skills. It can be a fun way to break up the time between February and April breaks.
  1. Encourage Students to Branch Out - By February we have a good understanding of our student’s strengths and goals. This is a perfect time to try and connect students with the next challenge. For example, I have a student who had been working on goal learning how to make origami. I connected them with the director of the afterschool program and they are now leading a class teaching other students this new skill. It is also a great time to connect students with community partners or teachers in the building who may be able to mentor your student and help them reach their goals.
  1. Start Thinking About Next Year - This is a time to start thinking about the transition to next year. Can you find a time for students to sit with their teachers they will have next year to share their portfolios? Can you hook in the guidance counselors from the high school to view the portfolios?
These are just a few ideas to re-energize your personal learning activities and to get students focused on goals, growth, and reflection. Try some of these ideas to keep the learning environment fun, flexible, and productive.