An approach to personalized learning may give districts a better chance of succeeding.
Webster’s dictionary defines resilience as the capacity to recover from difficulty; toughness. I continue to be inspired and motivated by the power of an educator. As HB4545 made its debut in June of 2021, educators were faced with another challenging task on the heels of finishing a very difficult year in education. Regardless of the multitude of summer tasks, school leaders all over Texas had just weeks to create an implementation plan to meet the House Bill 4545 requirements. The new House Bill aimed at boosting achievement for underperforming students was our here and now. HB 4545’s success ultimately hinges on commitment, timely and clear communication, and the leader’s ability to formulate a well-constructed plan from the beginning.
The only constant is change. Whether you are a teacher or administrator, we all have or will experience multiple changes, initiatives, and mandates throughout our careers. Change is often uncomfortable by challenging our current behaviors, but the infusion of new ideas can bring about growth and improvement. Implementing a new plan for interventions through House Bill 4545 would be challenging and complex work. However, the power of collaboration and reflection on new ideas can result in school transformation.
“But what if we stop thinking of HB4545 as a challenge but instead, we refer to it as an opportunity to redesign public school systems to ensure high levels of learning for all the students in which we serve?”
Fast forward to almost one year later, and HB4545 is well into full motion- 30 hours of accelerated TEKS-aligned small-group instruction and accelerated learning committees all formed and completed. While different iterations may occur, the commitment to continuous improvement has indicated an increase in formative assessments and student growth.
Classrooms are filled with a continuum of students from those who struggle to students who are high-performing; differentiating for each of these levels is challenging. For many years, schools designed either a pull-out method to intervene when students are not mastering skills or sacrificed the learning time of the higher-performing students by requiring them to help their peers learn missed concepts and skills. We have learned over the years that when students are pulled out of the classroom, they are often further behind in grade level because they are missing core content. These very students consistently experience a gap in learning because they are faced with the dire issue of trying to catch up on missed work. In too many cases, these students become lifers in the intervention system without any discernible results. It is a perpetuating loop that does not allow students to be rescued.
While the intent behind our intervention is to obviously help students, our current plan on serving our students may have little impact to accelerate their learning. So how do we implement a system that allows students to not miss core content time and focuses on personal growth?
Implementing WIN Time
The answer is WIN Time which stands for What I Need.
WIN Time is a period of the day embedded in the daily master schedule for students to prioritize their learning. WIN Time provides students the opportunity to become active participants and engage in their own learning.
As educational leaders, it is our steadfast commitment to providing learning for every student, every day. We cannot waiver in our commitment to serving every student. WIN Time was designed to create learning opportunities that allow each student to reach his or her highest level of achievement. We can’t settle for giving students the chance to learn; we ensure high levels of learning for each student, which is expected and promised.
In the same way that WIN Time is focused on personalized learning for students, it is also flexible to meet the needs of different campuses. There is no one size fits all, WIN Time can be flexible to your needs and can take on many forms depending on your campus size, resources, and vision.
Essential Actions of WIN Time
At the core of WIN Time, there are 3 Essential Actions. The essential actions are the steps we can take to impact student achievement.
- Systematic and Student-centered
The essence of WIN Time is student-centered instruction. Student-centered instruction places the student at the center of every decision and supports are built around them. Students become participants in their learning. The benefits of student-centered learning is that it seeks to meet every student’s needs. The right systems must be in place to guarantee that every student is correctly identified and receives intervention. The campus master schedule guarantees every student receives help during the day without missing core content or extracurricular classes.
- Ongoing Assessments
In order to make a precise determination for student growth, successful schools use data to review the student’s progress and determine if the targets will be met. Through well-structured assessments, educators can determine what state standards should be retaught and which students need extra assistance. To intervene successfully, we need to monitor student learning through an ongoing assessment process that includes ongoing monitoring of student achievement.
- Flexible Groups, Targeted Instruction
A practical method of improving student outcomes is having students set goals and track their progress. The key to accelerating learning is determining critical skills and concepts that students are missing and bridging the gaps. Instead of providing broad interventions, we need to determine the missing skills. The clear and transparent roadmap to overcome student gaps in learning will result in a sense of pride and accomplishment as students work through individualized plans for learning.
Over the last couple of years, the excitement and power in students knowing their own data has been a game-changer. Just as with any system, students and adults alike are more apt to be successful when they understand and build a plan together. The ability for students to understand and construct their own learning plans is the true ideal of personalized learning. This builds agency and internal performance in our students.
WIN Time is a proven system that not only complies with the requirements of HB 4545 but also embodies the idea of continuous improvement. Educators and students plan together to map out a plan to strengthen the gaps, students participate in the WIN Time intervention time, assessments are taken and the results are studied and the teacher and students act on the results by building another iteration to once again attack any gaps that may exist.
WIN Time was a major factor in Hawkins Elementary School earning the 2019 National Blue Ribbon Award. The campus has also received numerous other awards, and state data indicate significant gains in student achievement. The district has made the shift from a focus on teaching to a focus on learning, and it has been critical to its success. WIN Time has been in effect since 2017 at our elementary school. WIN Time is also on our secondary campus as well. Student achievement is also on the rise, as supported by our local data.
So how do we implement a system that allows students to not miss core content time and focuses on personal growth? Well, WIN Time was just what we needed!
WIN Time can truly transform your campus. While we can provide you with our story and the steps that transformed our campus, identifying the exact process and steps you need to take for your own campus should be made with your staff. I have always said, “people won’t tear down something they help to build.” The first and most critical piece of transforming your school weighs heavily on the will and passion of every single faculty and staff member, including you- the leader. Every leader must possess the skills to lead, but we must also have a passion for seeking transformation and addressing the issues at hand. We need to be the leader who says, “I want better for my students. I want better for the teachers and staff entering the doors each day. They all deserve the best.”
Learn More About WIN Time by purchasing the book WIN Time: Fearlessly Transforming Your School. WIN Time is located on Amazon, Walmart, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, and local bookstores.