A Personal Question for All Teachers

Opinion | Personal Learning Networks

A Personal Question for All Teachers

By Tony Wan     Feb 3, 2018

A Personal Question for All Teachers

What does it mean to make learning personal?

It’s no secret that teachers take their jobs personally. It’s how they build relationships with students and their families. It’s why they hone and tailor their craft to meet each child’s unique needs, strengths and interests.

But don’t just take our word for it. For the past three years, we’ve asked educators from every state to share, in their own words, how they make learning personal. Last year, our team also trekked across the country to meet teachers at local townhall-style gatherings. So far, we’ve traveled to 28 cities across 23 states, in regions both urban and rural, to learn how educators are helping every student grow, and to amplify their voices by sharing their experiences. You can find their stories here.

As we’ve chronicled their journeys, we’ve seen how teachers are also lifelong learners, continuously refining their practices through self-reflection, tapping into their own creativity and seeking inspiration from their professional learning communities. They wield far more than textbooks, notebooks and lesson plans.

Their ideas often spring from unusual places. Teachers have remodeled their classrooms after local tech startups and NASA space camps. A former music teacher tapped into his past as an orchestra conductor to help students articulate and achieve their goals. Others banded together to start local TED-Ed Clubs to give students an opportunity to develop their voice.

Making learning personal also means recognizing that students’ needs are shaped not only by their classroom experiences, but also by their environment outside of school. Yet teachers still find ways to serve and inspire. They support students’ emotional needs and rebuild their sense of community in the wake of natural disasters and human tragedies. And for children who have no place to call home, educators provide safe and supportive environments.

This handful of stories offers a resounding reminder of the incredible work that teachers do, and we know that there are countless more. This year we’re on a mission to find—and share—more examples of how teachers are working tirelessly to meet the needs of their students.

That’s where you come in. So, how do you make learning personal?


This week, we’re launching the #MakeItPersonal campaign to celebrate the work that teachers do to support every learner as a unique individual and create learning experiences that help each of them succeed.

We’ve developed a graphic generator to help you share what you do to make learning personal for your students.

Share how you make learning personal!

It’s simple. Just fill out the text box to complete the sentence, “I make learning personal by…” That’s it!

A couple of fun options: You can pick your own color combinations for your card. Also, if you’re doing this with a colleague or team, you can also toggle between “We” and “I” for the image.

When you’re all done, share your graphic on Twitter or Facebook. We’ll be keeping an eye out to see the amazing things you are doing!

Here are a few from our teacher-authors:

Autumn Hillis, science teacher at Williamson County Schools in Tennessee

Jon Hanover, founder of Roots Elementary School in Colorado

Kathy Curran, academic technology coordinator at North Allegheny School District in Pennsylvania

Susannah Johnson, humanities teacher at Assets High School in Hawaii

Troy Strand, digital learning specialist at White Bear Area Lake Schools in Minnesota

Valerie Gates, teacher at West High School in Utah

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