teacher Insights on Personalized Learning Training 


Following a rigorous week of professional development on the topic of personalized learning for nearly forty Holy Family faculty members in July, we were anxious to catch up and hear what they’d learned. Three teachers shared their insights and the aspects of personalized learning they are most excited about as they gear up for the 2018-2019 school year eager to implement this new educational approach.











Barb Ressler has been teaching English at Wahlert Catholic High School for the past 40 years.








Emily Schmidt has been teaching Math at Mazzuchelli Catholic Middle School for nine years.








Meagan Herkleman has taught at Holy Ghost Elementary for three years.


Q: What was your biggest take away from training?

 A: I found the balance and integrated focus in personalized learning on those deep, enduring learnings (Cognitive Skills) necessary for college and career success coupled with the Habits of Success and Mentoring the most compelling. It’s a rigorous and wholistic approach that students and parents can appreciate. We’re teaching the whole person with their future success in mind.

A: Summit is going to be a lot of hard work at the beginning for both teachers and students, however, students will be better prepared for the future because of it. We are putting students in the driver’s seat of their education and giving them more accountability for their learning.


Q: Did you have any misconceptions about personalized learning or Summit Learning prior to training that you now feel differently about?

 A: A common misconception about personalized learning involves understanding the role of the teacher; teachers teach in personalized learning. They guide student learning and make instructional decisions as they always have. The bonus in Personalized Learning is we have more data with which to make better instructional decisions and more interaction with students because the focus is on supporting and managing student learning rather than being the sole deliverer of content. Students also have more agency, actively engaging in their own learning.

Leveraging technology is a tool no different than textbooks in a more traditional approach. Yet we likely did not think that the textbook replaced the teacher.

A: I had seen a little bit last year how the EDGE program (Mazzuchelli's personalized learning pilot) worked, but it’s difficult to see how much it makes sense until you see it all together or you experience it. I definitely had concerns when I started training, but as it went on I became more and more excited to teach personalized learning classes.

My main concerns going into the training were the screen time for students and the teacher’s role. I had the misconception that everything was online and the teacher was more of a babysitter making sure that students completed the lessons on the Summit Learning Platform. I found out that almost everything can be done either on the computer or on paper and that teachers still have the freedom and flexibility to make changes that best fit their personal teaching style and their students. Personalized learning doesn't just mean work at your own pace on the computer - we can also personalize the learning in other ways, like providing different resources or giving students choices about how to complete an assignment.

A: One misconception that I had about Summit before going to training is that students would be spending a substantial portion of their day on a computer. At training that was one of the first topics that they talked about. If implemented well, students in Summit will not be on their computers all day. Students will be able to practice their reading with books, they will practice taking notes, and will also be able to collaborate with others during project time.


Q: What are the benefits you are most excited about?

 A: The clarity of teaching and learning focus provided by the balanced and interactive structure of learning and teaching will assist both students and teachers!

Personalized Learning meets the individual needs of students. This is facilitated by leveraging technology to deliver a reliable and verifiable curriculum for students’ future success.

A: I think the resources that come with this learning platform are amazing. They really have taken the time to find the best lesson ideas, tools, and other resources and put them all in one place. I also like that they are continually adding to the resources available and we can add to it as well. As teachers, this platform gives us a great place to start for each unit we teach and still allows us to be creative in how we teach it. 

A: Mentoring is something I am really looking forward to. As a teacher, we do our best to make connections and build relationships with the students in our classroom. With Summit I will have a time set aside to help build those relationships. Through the mentoring component of Summit, teachers sit down with their mentees one on one for at least ten minutes each week. They will talk about more than just school, the mentors
and the mentees will talk about what is going on in their life, so the mentees can build a deeper connection and trust with their teacher.

One of the most exciting pieces about Summit for my classroom is that I will be able to meet the needs of all my learners. This is not a one size fits all curriculum. Students at every level are going to be challenged to be the best they can be.


Q: How will this change your teaching style? 

 A: Instruction shifts to provide the student with rigorous, relevant opportunities to own the learning shaped by individual choice and focus. Purpose and meaning are built into this approach through the platform’s transparency.

A: The math classes really emphasize real-life application and encourage students to discover for themselves how and why various math concepts work. I’ve known for a while the benefits of learning this way and have tried to gradually make my classes more investigative and hands-on, but I think I’ll be able to do it much more consistently with the EDGE program.

A: Summit will change the way I teach completely! I will no longer be teaching and planning the same way I have for the last three years. I will instead be taking all the data the Summit Learning Platform is gathering and be able to target my students needs more accurately than ever before. I will be making much more informed decisions because of the data I am receiving. My planning will change too, instead of sitting down weekly and planning out what I will be doing and the lessons I will be teaching to the whole group, I will plan more on a daily basis. There will also be less whole group instruction, while it may be necessary from time to time, most of my teaching will likely be in partial or small groups.


Q: What else should we know?

 A: As I reflected on the training in search of a tagline that synthesized PL, the following came to my mind “Learning on purpose for a purpose.” I view personalized learning as a natural and necessary evolution of education for the 21st century.

A: This is something that will be new to everyone so there will be some bumps along the way but in the end, this will be the best way for us to reach all of our learners. Through Summit, students will be able to reach their highest potential by pushing themselves to be the best they can be.


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Learn more about Personalized Learning at Holy Family Catholic Schools






Holy Family Catholic Schools

2005 Kane St., Dubuque IA 52001
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