Our Solutions for Personalizing Delaware Schools

October 30th, 2014

Category: Policy and Practice, Student-Centered Learning

This was written on behalf of the Rodel Teacher Council by Tim Brewer, a Science Teacher and Science Chair at St. Georges High School in the New Castle County Vocational Technical School District; and Jennifer Lougheed, an Instructional Coach at the Indian River School District. It was originally published in the “The News Journal” as an op-ed.

As teachers, every day we work with excellent colleagues who work tirelessly on behalf of their students. We know that if all Delaware students are to receive a truly world-class education, teachers must be open to changing the way we do things in classrooms and schools across the state. Since last fall, our participation in the Rodel Teacher Council has helped us to think differently about our classrooms – from the physical layout of the room, to the types of projects we assign, and from how we think of our role as teachers to how we assess our students’ learning.

As the Rodel Teacher Council unveils our statewide road map to better personalize instruction for all students, we are offering solutions that will have significant impact beyond our individual classrooms and schools. The Blueprint for Personalized Learning in Delaware is one of the first teacher-driven publications in the country to propose policy recommendations for effectively creating a student-centered learning environment.

The Rodel Teacher Council was brought together by the Rodel Foundation of Delaware to elevate the voices of teachers; provide a venue for teachers to weigh in on important education issues; and help set the course for educational improvement in our state. Our members represent all three counties; traditional K-12 schools, public charter schools and vo-tech schools; all core academic content areas, including special education; and all grade bands, including early learning.

The Teacher Council’s vision is for Delaware to have a world-class system of education in which instruction is personalized, tailored to each student’s specific academic needs, personal interests, and distinct learning styles. We believe personalized learning offers an improved vision for education – one in which students become the center of the learning environment, using technology to support a more individualized learning experience both inside and outside the classroom. Personalized learning leverages technology and other resources to extend what excellent teachers already do. Some of our recommendations include the following:

  • Flexibility for schools and districts to move toward competency-based learning, where students can move ahead to new academic content once they demonstrate mastery of specific skills and concepts, and students have multiple attempts to master skills.
  • An innovative professional development system for teachers that is more personalized and capitalizes on each teacher’s strengths and areas for growth, including improved online offerings.
  • Incentives for innovative districts and schools to share strategies and collaborate with others in implementing personalized learning models.

To develop our blueprint, we met with education leaders, policymakers and experts in the field. We also observed and interviewed students, fellow teachers and administrators. As a result of this work, our classrooms have become more student-centered. If you took a photo of our classrooms at the beginning of this journey, many look drastically different than they do now.

We hope to bring a solutions-oriented perspective to the conversation about the future of education in Delaware. We look forward to engaging policymakers, education leaders, our fellow educators and others around the state and country to make our blueprint recommendations a reality for every student. Delaware is in a unique position to implement personalized learning for every child. We have colleagues across the state already personalizing learning for their students, and we believe that the transition to personalized learning can have a significant impact for every student’s individual growth.

We invite you to explore our blueprint online (www.rodelfoundationde.org/blueprint) to learn more about personalized learning and the Rodel Teacher Council. We hope you share your ideas on personalized learning and partner with us to personalize the educational experience of all students in Delaware.

Rodel Foundation of Delaware




More from: Policy and Practice

Reasons to Be Optimistic about the Wilmington Learning Collaborative

October 8th, 2022

Author: Paul Herdman

Supporting Delaware’s Students in the Wake of COVID

September 27th, 2022

Author: Paul Herdman

Family Stability and Children’s Development: Why Paid Family Medical Leave for All Workers Makes Sense

June 3rd, 2021

Author: Kelsey Mensch