WHEN THE SYSTEM SEEMS TO BE WORKING IN YOUR FAVOR, like at Kettle Moraine School District (KMSD), it is incredibly difficult to assess your circumstances and say “we can and should do better.” But, what happens if you do?
When looking at the traditional metrics, there was no reason any KMSD leader should have given a second thought to transforming their vision. But, when they put themselves in their learner’s shoes, they began to uncover information the numbers couldn’t reveal—the dispositions with which their learners approached learning. Based upon the district’s innovative work in four charter schools, it was determined that these dispositions are most efficiently and effectively developed in a learner-centered environment.
Kettle Moraine’s most recent community forum in fall 2015 allowed the community to reflect upon the district’s vision of “Learning without Boundaries.” It suggested that all students in Kettle Moraine, not just those in the charter schools, have the opportunity to be part of a personalized learning environment where learners should no longer be constrained by the roadblocks of time, space, and teacher-
owned learning. Instead, learners should be given an invitation to personalize, contextualize, and make relevant their own learning experiences—learning should be driven by their own agency.
For one learner, this has allowed his socially embedded, entrepreneurial idea—dubbed the “Miracle Minute”—to go from a school project to a community-integrated campaign. By using an innovative fundraising strategy, which called upon participants to pool funds together in just 60 seconds, he raised thousands of dollars for his town’s local Children’s Hospital. Through this process, the learner integrated his personal and educational experiences and applied them over a multi-year fundraising campaign.
Expanding this personalized work beyond a single story, KMSD educators have incorporated a “Genius Hour.” During this time, learners are provided an hour to explore their interests without limitations. From this process, comes unique project ideas—some of which are never completed. Failing forward is strongly encouraged and by creating a positive association to failure, learners allow their imaginations to run wild and explore their creativity without restraint—even when exploring learning beyond the “Genius Hour.”
Once KMSD saw what it meant to be a 21st-century learner, they knew a complete transformation was all that would suffice. Through their unwavering commitment to developing a system that recognizes and celebrates the uniqueness of each learner, the community at KMSD—learners, educators, parents, and all other stakeholders—is proud to be seen as “Future Ready” and dedicated to transforming education.