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Author: Laura Shubilla

A Key Support For Students: Supporting Adult Learning for the Sake of Learning

July 18, 2012 by

There is a fairly settled body of research that links the quality of the teacher to the success of the student.  As we move into a more personalized, competency based and increasingly decentralized learning environment how do we build the competencies of adults to better support the learning of students?

For the past year, I have been a student in Harvard University’s new doctoral program in Educational Leadership (Ed.L.D).   The first year involves an intense focus on one’s own “adult development” which I skeptically approached with somewhat of a “been there done that” attitude.  As a leader of a fairly large non-profit, I had my share of 360 evaluations, professional development seminars, executive coaching etc.  I was secure, almost cocky, in my understanding of my strengths and weaknesses and how they did or didn’t support the outcomes that I was hoping for in my own organization and more importantly for the almost 22,000 youth under our watch each year.  As a leader in the sector, I had grown fatigued from all of the efforts that I made to tie the “professional development” that I was being given to the goals that I was striving to achieve.  It felt like work and I had to WORK to feel personally or professionally “developed.”

But low and behold this time the journey was different and something funny happened on the way to “adult development.”  For the first time in years, I reconnected with myself as an adult learner.  Not the kind of adult learner who was trying to learn something to either be in compliance or to improve the various metrics on which I was being evaluated, but as an adult learner who had my own interests and passions, anxieties and questions.  I was asked to actually be curious, to better understand myself, and to pursue new ways of learning that often stretched me beyond my comfort zone and towards my learning edge.

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Five Ideas for Building a System of Support

June 18, 2012 by

Over the last few weeks, I have been conducting interviews with national experts who are working to implement competency-based learning in districts across the country.  We have focused in particular on the topic of supportive services in a competency-based environment.  A few common themes have begun to emerge:

  1. Personalized learning requires a deep understanding of each individual learner.  By definition, this will require an assessment of learning styles, strengths and weaknesses, etc.  Every learner’s plan therefore builds in the support that is needed. (more…)
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