When we were in school there was a mystery of what you were going to learn, how it was graded, and the teacher owned all the information. Transparency in learning has lifted that mystery and bridged the information gap between the teacher and students.
As a teacher, part of my job is to be a lifelong learner and I took on the challenge to learn and implement a student-centered personalized learning classroom. My students and I have been blown away by the transformation from a traditional classroom design to a personalized learning classroom.
One of the biggest areas I have worked on in my classroom is the concept of transparency. Student learning targets are very specific, clearly worded, and prominently posted. I want my students to know exactly what lies ahead and what they are expected to learn in this course. As a result, my classroom is arranged with all of the standards visible.
Students learning plans also clearly define the learning targets and the aligned activities to prepare students to master the content. The student learning plan is like their own individualized lesson plan for the standard they are learning. The student takes a pretest to determine their point of entry in the learning progression, completes the aligned activities and small group instruction based on the pretest, and demonstrates mastery once they are confident in their learning. The student learning plan supports the student to be self-directed, guides the learning, and captures all the data and evidence. Student learning plans are a huge piece of building transparency in my classroom.
Assessment is also not a mystery! There are no secrets. I am not trying to trick them. I am trying to teach them. Our digital learning platform allows for students to have easy access to assessments, immediate feedback and the ability to track their progress anytime.
Students can see on any day what standards they have mastered, standards that still need developing, and the next standards in their learning progression. Students are more prepared for assessments with the learning targets clearly defined. The aligned activities allow students to determine when they are ready to be assessed and when they need more practice. Students have taken ownership of their learning and the content required in the course. It has been so encouraging to see students admit that I have not fully mastered a standard and watch them self-assign homework in order to be prepared the next class period.
Additionally, I believe the implementation of transparency has helped develop the climate of my classroom. There is an honesty amongst the students. They are not afraid to ask each other for help because they have each experienced success in different areas. They have become a family and are happy to stop what they are doing to help someone else be successful.
In short, I have been amazed at the successes of my students this year. I cannot believe the ground they have covered and the confidence they have gained. Transparency in the classroom is something I thought I had. It was something I thought every teacher just did. However, I have learned this year what true transparency is, and how by giving my students the complete picture they have been able to rise to the occasion.