Troy Moore, principal of Hawk Ridge Elementary School in Charlotte, NC, does not have his own office. It is not that he cannot have one, he has simply chosen to create a culture in which he has a constant presence in the school and classrooms to lead and support personalized learning. At Hawk Ridge, students are not passive learners; they are engaged and empowered stakeholders in their own education. Researchers Mary Ann Wolf, PhD, and Alex Dreier at the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation investigated how Hawk Ridge successfully implemented personalized learning, and have shared what they learned in a new case study.
Making it Personal: Essential Elements of Hawk Ridge Elementary’s Personalized Learning Approach breaks down the strategies that foster an effective school culture, which include:
- + Developing a shared vision
- + Ongoing professional development
- + Structuring school redesign more conducive to personalized learning
- + Establishing trust among students, teachers, and administrators
Visitors to Hawk Ridge will find students participating in substantive discussions with each other and with their teachers. Creativity abounds — students are working together to develop products, and the halls and open spaces are specifically designed as gathering spaces for student collaboration. Teachers are not hesitant to share challenges with Moore, but they are also proud to share student artifacts and data that demonstrate success in their classrooms.
The report also delves into the specific, tangible efforts and strategies that have accelerated Hawk Ridge’s impact through personalized learning, such as their implementation of a “genius hour,” commitment to personalized pathways, team teaching methods, infusion of technology, and creation of an opportunity culture approach to staffing.
“Because personalized learning develops the whole child in order to be a successful and productive citizen in an ever-changing world it is crucial that we continue to find great models like Hawk Ridge to learn from and emulate,” said Wolf, director of digital learning programs at the Friday Institute. “Our hope for this case study is that it will inspire and provide a useful example for principals, teachers, and district leaders to draw upon as they shift their schools and districts toward personalized learning.”