1. Teacher Life

4 Questions to Support a Student’s Path to Personalized Success

In 2018, I wrote a post titled “10 Core Values for Education” and came up with the following “10 Values” remixed from the values from Zappos.  Here are the “values” I suggested:

As I read the above, I feel these values apply more now than ever. Yet, the list was meant to be my own and hopefully inspire schools and districts to discuss their “Core Values” and define them as a community. I still think this would be a valuable process to not only do together but to revisit often.

When I look back at all of these “values” I listed, the one that still sticks out and was intentionally listed first is the following:

“Do what you can to support the growth and success of your students.”

There are two things that I think about when reading this.

The first is the focus on the process of “supporting the growth and success” of the students. As I shared in the original post, it is more about doing what is right rather than blindly following rules even if they know they do not benefit students. I always believe that there should be some structure in our schools/organizations, but quickly, we can get lost in “policy” and lose focus on doing what is best to serve our learners. I think that value gives people closest to students the opportunity and autonomy to do what is right.  I share the following in the original post:

Focusing on these types of “values” helps develop wisdom. It creates cultures where educators are treated as professionals and ensure they do right by those they serve instead of shifting their focus on what “rules” they need to follow.

The second thing I want to focus on from that first statement is to discuss the term “success”  and what that means for education.  When we talk about “student success,” are we basing this on our (the adults) perception of what that should look like and fitting those perceptions into whole school metrics, or a combination of both?  Is the concept of “student success” a conversation being had with students on what success is to them and what paths they need to get there, or a conversation being had for our students by the adults?

If “personalization” of learning is important, that idea doesn’t fit well with a “standardization” of success.

Here are some good questions that we should learn about our students regarding what “success” looks like to them:

  1. What does success look like to you at the end of this school year/semester?
  2. What does it look like to you after you move on past this grade?
  3. What are some steps that you can take to achieve those goals?
  4. In what ways we can support you in this process?

Those questions, or modifications of them, are not only important to ask of our students but to act upon as well. 

As adults, we all have our own definitions of “success,” what that means as individuals, and how we get to that destination. When we receive support on the journey from others, it is much more likely we will get to the level we are attaining.  Students need that same support.

(P.S. This exercise/idea should not be relegated to only students.  Supporting our staff on their own journeys toward personal success is one great way to do what is best for students by being our best for the adults.)

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