If you’re in the education sphere, you've likely heard of competency-based education. It’s been growing in popularity across the country, and rapidly becoming the focus of not only higher educational curricculm, but secondary schools as well.
A student with a fixed mindset might appear more confident, more successful initially. They know what they’re good at, and they are confident about that skill. It’s a good thing to be confident about your abilities. And we may have a natural aptitude for certain things that make those things easier for us. But what is the danger? Here is a quote from the video:
“The moment we believe that success is determined by an ingrained level of ability, we will brittle in the face of adversity.”
Do you remember you junior and senior year in High School? It may have been fun, but it may have been pretty stressful, too. With the excitement that comes from starting a new chapter in your life is the fear of starting a new chapter in your life. At some point, every student realizes – this is it. Childhood is over, and now everyone expects you to decide what you want to do. Lost in a sea of college applications, job searches and essays, the well-meant question from friends and family adds increasing pressure – ‘So…what are your plans?'
Schools all over the country are seeing the need to step up their game and provide students with a more personalized learning experience. In most cases, this calls for a change in the school schedule. Many schools have opted to make their schedule more flexible. Whether your school has implemented RTI intervention and enrichment blocks, an advisory period, or perhaps a blend of online and in-class learning, scheduling can be a challenge.
Being able to work and persist through something you don’t like can be good for you. Perseverance and hard work – grit – is an important life skill. But you should still see how what you’re doing connects you to the bigger picture. You can work hard, maybe even at something that doesn’t particularly interest you, and still see that there’s a bigger picture, that what you’re learning matters.
Even if a school would like to change their schedule, students still need to meet a credit requirement and this will take a certain amount of time. For most schools time can’t be entirely cut out of the equation, and neither can grades. So how can you implement a personalized, competency-based program? By scheduling an extra period, some schools have made this gradual shift. Often called an advisory block, or in some schools, an intervention or flex block, this time allows students to receive the extra attention they need.
As a result of your increased interactions and conversations with students, you may find yourself curious about the content of other departments and how they do things. You may even find that there are methods and techniques that you might find beneficial to utilize in your own teaching. In your role as a teacher, you will need to monitor your classes and be sure to pre-book students who appear to be wavering.
Through the passage of time, the public high school has, at large, remained stagnant. Yes, there are rebels and rock stars out there but most high schools haven’t changed, from long before 1961 until now. For decades, students have been organized into age-based grades with a set of classes split up into periods that last for a set amount of time, usually between 45 to 90 minutes. Students are required to learn a subject within that time, and then move on. Once that course has met its time limit, so has the learning. The student takes a test, their knowledge of the subject is measured, and regardless of whether or not they have really learned anything, they move on to the next subject.
With so much to do and so little time, what teacher would want to burden themselves with additional work and stress? While the answer may be no one, change is inevitable. As ‘edreform’ pushes ahead, the way students are being taught, and the way school is structured, will change. Many educators long for this change, as it will enable students to truly learn and grow, but they fear it may require even more work on their part.