2.2 Avoid the Pitfalls!

We’ve seen educators launch PLPs in many different ways. And we’ve learned a lot about what works and what doesn’t. Students, of course, have helped show us the way. Here are two ways to avoid common pitfalls. Check out the book to see more of these!

DO: Start with engaging learning

Often, teachers start with goal-setting. But students don’t always know what they are interested in, or what kind of goals they want to set. Start with engaging learning like identity projects or project-based learning. Then invite students to reflect on these experiences. Goal-setting can follow, and when it does it will be more meaningful.

For example, at Leland & Gray School, in Townshend VT, students began a year-long service learning project with some identity work (Get to know them!), then moved to reflection (How could we improve our school campus? What do *I* want my legacy to this school to be?) and then launched into the service learning work.

Students wrote grants, designed outdoor learning spaces, and incorporated cyclical reflections in their PLPs as the year progressed. By the end of the year, they had built a nature walk, painted murals inside and out, assembled an outdoor classroom and installed a number of new planters around the school. And all of it linked to reflections in their PLPs.


DON’T: Over-school-ify the experience

Students can be turned off by PLPs that are too teacher-centered. Left to their own devices, students frequently turn to their out-of-school experiences, or ones that are not traditionally considered in counting achievements.

So when students seem less engaged than you’d like, don’t be afraid to remix. Don’t be afraid to ask them what would work better.

At Crossett Brook Middle School, in Duxbury VT, the student leadership group (y’all have those, right? everyone?) worked hard to improve PLPs they felt could be serving them better. As a result, the students turned their PLPs into P.A.T.H.s: a new, student-identified format for personal learning plans.

Food for thought

Read more about how students can lead the way with PLP design:

Now tell us

  • What have you learned from implementing PLPs in your school?

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Personalized Learning Plans: Purposes and Opportunities

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Personalized Learning Plans: Purposes and Opportunities
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