District Administration May 2018 - 36

Setting the PACE
ules in the 2017-18 school year, "some
students simply took themselves out of
the schedule so no teacher would be expecting them, and skipped school," Principal Linda Crawford says.
Now, each student meets twice weekly
with a mentor teacher who helps them
schedule their time appropriately during
50-minute class periods. (Some classes,
such as band and chorus, all meet together at the same time.)
Several days each week students
have Opportunity Time, when they can
choose to stay and pursue projects or
leave for the day, creating more time for
teachers to work with students who need
individualized support.
Along with scheduling, mentor teachers also work with students who need
to develop "the learner mindset," which
includes skills such as goal setting, time
management and meeting deadlines,
Crawford says.
Graduates continue to struggle with
these skills in college and the workforce,
Stephens adds.
"The old methods didn't help empow-

"Kids aren't masters of the learning process
in any realm-they're used to being told
what to learn and how to do it."
-Superintendent Summer Stephens, Weston County School District (Wyo.)

er students-the adult set the adult's pace
and the weight-bearing walls of school
regulated the what, when and how of
learning," she says.
2. Lack of supervision
Critics may assume that turning students loose on a wholly digital learning
platform may leave them unsupervised,
but the most effective uses of self-paced
learning require teachers more than ever,
says Sandy Roth, director of curriculum
and assessment at Albuquerque Charter
Academy, which is part of Albuquerque
Public Schools.
"It is much more expensive and complicated than buying a subscription to an

Types of self-paced learning
Self-paced learning can happen in a variety of ways, often in combination:
* Online
* Blended
* Project-based
Self-paced skills
Self-pacing is effective only when students are also beginning to develop a
learning-to-learn mindset. These skills, which should last a lifetime, are as
important as the content itself, says Summer Stephens, superintendent of
Weston County School District #7 in Wyoming.
Skills to mold in students to facilitate self-paced learning:
7. Decision-making
1. Belief in oneself and one's
8. Accountability
capacity
9. Adaptability
2. Love of learning
10. Goal setting and planning
3. Intrinsic motivation
11. Follow-through
4. Resilience
12. Reflection
5. Understanding of learning style
13. Engagement
6. Problem-solving

36 May 2018

online curriculum package and assigning
students the courses they need," she says.
As a blended learning school, Albuquerque Charter Academy combines online
digital media with traditional classroom
methods. It requires the physical presence
of both teacher and student, while allowing students some control over time,
place, path and pace, Roth says.
Most students follow a set class schedule and attend different classes every
hour, but when they go into the science
classroom, for example, everyone is likely
working on different material. There are
two teachers in each content-area classroom who deliver instruction in one-onone and small group settings.
"Teachers and students are intermingling, rather than a teacher being at the
front of the room delivering information
to a class," Roth says.
3. Isolation
The most successful self-paced classrooms
and schools do not simply restrict instruction to the online realm.
For instance, at Upton High School,
educators focus on small-group interactions, and students are partnering on
projects in multigrade classrooms. "If
you go in a classroom, it's pretty social,"
Crawford says. "The social studies teacher
may be discussing government with two
seniors, and two sophomores also in the
room may be working on something else
but participating in the conversation."
At EPiC Elementary in Missouri, students who set their own pace avoid the
isolating stigma of working ahead of or
behind the rest of the class, Principal Michelle Schmitz says. The school, part of
District Administration



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of District Administration May 2018

District Administration May 2018 - Cover1
District Administration May 2018 - Cover2
District Administration May 2018 - 1
District Administration May 2018 - 2
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