WHAT IF LEARNING COULD HAPPEN ANYTIME, ANYWHERE, AND BE ABOUT ANYTHING? What if learning were recognized as a lifelong endeavor? What if learning could be engaging, inspiring, relevant, and even fun?
In 2007, these “what ifs” inspired and guided California’s Lindsay Unified School District as they tackled a complete transformation of their education system. From the start, they engaged diverse voices—educators, principals, district leaders, parents, union leaders, city officials, and community members—in creating a new vision for learning. Through extensive work with leadership and the community, they emerged with a new mission, vision, and strategic design that set them on the course toward personalized learning for all Lindsay learners.
Under LUSD’s Strategic Design, the education system has been turned on its head. Learners no longer advance through the system because of age or grade-level, rather, they are met at their developmental level and progress through required learning based on performance. This competency-based system focuses on learner outcomes that prepare each child academically, socially, and emotionally. Lindsay values the development of skills and dispositions like creativity, problem solving, and critical thinking just as much as the acquisition of knowledge.
Lindsay’s Learning Facilitators are empowered to be “future-focused trend trackers”—they create learning opportunities that are relevant and contextualized to their learners’ current lives that prepare them for what the future holds. Learning Facilitators work to personalize learning opportunities to the learners’ interests, needs, and learning styles and challenge them with real-world learning experiences. Technology is also brought into play in a big way. With all content soon to be available online, learning will be 24/7 for Lindsay learners. But the Learning Facilitators’ greatest joy is seeing that all Lindsay learners are beginning to take ownership of their learning. Such deep levels of learning advance graduates prepared and equipped as lifelong learners—ready to “choose the future they desire.”
Lindsay’s learner-centered mindset and methods, as well as their results, have made them the talk of—well—the nation, and they’ve opened their doors to visitors from across the country for several years. They’ve also been incredibly open about both their successes and mistakes in transforming education. Superintendent Tom Rooney sees Lindsay’s transformation as a model for others to learn from as they transform their own organizations. His biggest piece of advice: Involve, engage, and listen to the voice of the learner at every step along the way.