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A Learner with Agency Is a Learner Who Is Future Ready

Agency Webinar


Future Ready Schools® Invites You to a Participate in a Webinar

 A Learner with Agency Is a Learner Who Is Future Ready

Monday, October 16, 2017
2:00–2:30 p.m. (ET)

Kathleen McClaskey, Founder, Make Learning Personal; Coauthor, Make Learning Personal and How to Personalize Learning
Tom Murray, Director of Innovation, Future Ready Schools®, Alliance for Excellent Education

On October 16, 2017, Future Ready Schools® held a webinar that is part of its Leadership Hub, a one-stop-shop of professional learning opportunities for school leaders.

As the nation strives to educate all young people to become independent and self-directed learners so they have choices in college, a career, and life, each child must be promised the opportunity to develop learner agency. How can that promise be fulfilled?

In this webinar, Kathleen McClaskey discussed how to empower all learners with the UDL (Universal Design for Learning) Lens: Access, Engage, and Express, which is a three-step process that results in learner agency. All learners should take ownership of their learning and they need a way to talk about who they are and what their strengths and challenges are in addition to the details about their interests, talents, and aspirations. The process to develop learner agency includes a Learner Profile (LP), Personal Learning Backpack (PLB), and Personal Learning Plan (PLP). The LP will help students tell their story and from there, conversations and relationships will uncover the learner in each child.

Questions to consider during the process:

  • What can be derived from the LP to develop a PLB of tools, resources, and skills for each learner?
  • What should be included in a PLP for each learner to develop agency?
  • How can a culture be created where learners are more valued than students?

Panelists also addressed questions submitted by online viewers.

Please direct questions concerning the webinar to If you are unable to watch the webinar live, an archived version will be available in FRS Hub shortly after the event airs.

Additional Resources


Future Ready Schools® (FRS) is a project of the Alliance for Excellent Education, a Washington, DC–based national policy, practice, and advocacy organization dedicated to ensuring that all students, particularly those traditionally underserved, graduate from high school ready for success in college, work, and citizenship.

 Follow FRS on Twitter (; Facebook (; and the FRS Leadership Hub (

If you are interested in renting the Alliance’s facilities for your next meeting or webinar, please visit our facilities page to learn more.

Tom Murray:              Hello everybody, I’m Tom Murray, the director of innovation for Future Ready Schools, a project for the Alliance for Excellent Education located in Washington, DC. Future Ready Schools is a collaboration between the Alliance and a vast coalition of over 60 other national and regional organizations. The goal of Future Ready Schools is to maximize digital learning opportunities and to help school districts move quickly towards personalized student-centered learning. The effort provides districts with the resources and support to ensure that local technology and digital learning plans align with instructional best practices, are implemented by highly trained teachers and maximize personalized learning experiences for all students, particularly those from traditionally underserved communities.

The hashtag for today’s webinar is Future Ready, as always. Thank you for making an investment and joining us today. I’m gonna be your host on their webinar, on the Learner Agency and you are in for a treat today. With me today is my good friend, Kathleen McClaskey. She’s the founder of Make Learning Personal and the coauthor of Make Learning Personal and How to Personalize Learning. So Kathleen, what an honor it is to have you today, my friend, thank you for joining us, and can you take a few minutes just to open up and share a little bit about yourself with our audience?


Kathleen McClaskey:  Sure, thank you, Tom, for inviting me to do this webinar. Well, I’m Kathleen McClaskey, and I have been in the educational technology field since 1983, where I saw that computers were the great equalizer, and I will tell you that today that that particular vision that I had is really what drives me every day around personalized learning. I actually have extensive experience around universal design for learning and gonna introduce that to you in this particular webinar.

But here is the endgame for this particular webinar, is for you to understand how to discover the learner and the importance in understanding that. But I basically am driven every day to really spread the word and to empower educators with the knowledge and skills about how to personalize learning in your environments.


Tom Murray:              Great. And I’m sure many of our viewers today already knew who you are through your books, through your incredible workshops and you’re just out there all the time. So we’re excited that you gave some time today to Future Ready, we really, really appreciate that, so welcome and thanks for joining us.

You know, part of Future Ready is about preparing learners to take ownership of their learning and to help learners really develop this notion of agency. The elements of learner agency are featured in one of the books that you coauthored, How to Personalize Learning, which I believe I actually have a copy of right here. I’ve been rereading that, an excellent, excellent book. Can you take some time to talk to us about this notion of a learner agency, such a vital topic?


Kathleen McClaskey:  Well, thank you, Tom. Learner agency simply means that someone has developed the skills to become an independent, self-directed learner. I will talk a little bit about what it means in a personalized learning environment. It’s where learners really understand their strengths and challenges. They’re able to deploy learning strategies to support their own learning. And on a daily basis, they are developing the skills to be self-directed, self-regulated learners who are able to monitor their progress and make connections with prior learning.

And these learners, by the way, can choose and use the appropriate technologies for any tasks, are motivated by them mastering their own learning. So if learners continue to learn in these environments, the anticipated results, by the way, will be expert learners with agency who are truly prepared for their future. And here is a saying and here is a quote from me, “A learner with agency is a learner who is future ready.”  Well, future ready means that the learner has full ownership of their learning.


Tom Murray:              You know, Kathleen, I’m listening to your talk and I’m just listening to the words that come out, and I know the words, as educators, that we speak are so, so important, but I continue to hear you say the word learner, learner, learner, learner, learner, and you didn’t reference the word student. Is that purposeful?


Kathleen McClaskey:  Oh, absolutely, that’s purposeful. So, about five years ago, we took a look at the terminology around personalized learning because around personalized learning you actually have to have a common language, and student just didn’t really fit the order there. So I want everyone, first of all, to always think about yourself as a learner and to think about why I would use the term learner versus student. And student, by the way – and a little bit of research that I did was really a term that came out of the Middle Ages and it doesn’t seem to really fit this new environment where we’re transforming teaching and learning.

And so, remember, a student learns in a classroom, is assigned to do tasks, follows required objectives, does the assignment designed by the teacher, seeks information for assignments, works individually, sometimes in a group, but earns a grade to reflect that they have met the objectives and standards. But here is who a leaner is, learner develops their own learning goals. They monitor their own progress in meeting goals. They have a purpose or interest to learn something. They ask questions, they seek information. The find ways to collaborate. They want to know something because they want to know it, not for a grade, and they’re curious about life and they never really stop learning.

So learner, a big question for all of my – for the audience out there is how do we create a school culture where learners are more valued than students? That’s a question I like to leave everybody with. I know it’s the beginning of the webinar but that’s a good thought.


Tom Murray:              Yeah, no, that is a great thought. It was something I picked up on just listening to the words that you were using right away. And thanks for diving into that, you know, and I know you’re somebody that really puts stuff like out there and challenging that notion of even just using the word student, you know, it gives us pause and to think through just kind of our everyday vocabulary and what we’re using.

You know, one of the things that you’ve written about and have often discussed is how we need to empower learners to tell their story about how they learn. So can you share the process that can help learners do just that?


Kathleen McClaskey:  Well, yeah. So if we want learners, first of all, to take ownership of their learning and we need to have them tell a story in how they learn, but how do we go about doing that? Well, we’ve developed a three-step process to develop agency, by the way, with all learners, that includes a learner profile, personal learning backpack and a personal learning plan. And that learner profile, by the way, is used to share how they learn, using this UDL lens, universal design for learning lens, of access, engage and express. Talk a little bit more about that later.

But they also share their interests, their aspirations, who they are, who they want to be and how they want to make a difference. And once this is shared, by the way, the partnership – a partnership between teacher and learner begins, and the two now can collaborate on and design a personal learning backpack that may include tools or apps and skills and strategies, but the skills to support their learning.

Then they can work on personal learning goals and a personal learning plan so the learner can gain the skills they need to become more independent and self-directed and to develop agency. But this is a really important piece about this particular process, in that every child, by the way, wants to tell and share who they are and when we allow them to do those sort of things in the classroom, and if we were to do this with every learner, it really says to them, number one, how much you really care about them, second of all – another thing it does for learners, it basically validates them as a learner and says, gees, you know what, I’m okay the way I learn. Kids need to know that. It’s our job to help them develop the skills to become independent and self-directed and that we value and we need to value every learner and that profile really helps them do that when they tell their story.


Tom Murray:              Right. And, you know, we had a question come in that kinda relates along those lines. As you’re talking about every learner in the classroom and one of those learners is gonna be the teacher as well, and Paula Dickenson from Charlottesville asks, how can we help our teachers develop the agency they need in order for them to be future ready? So I’m gonna interject that question from the audience just there ’cause I think it fits so well. So can you talk about the adult side of this a little bit?


Kathleen McClaskey:  Yeah. In fact, by the way, you would use actually the same process. In fact, I was sharing, actually, with teachers just recently about how to do their own learner profile. And you really need to look at your strengths and challenges in a way that you learn, okay. And then you need to start building a backpack that can actually support your instruction, support your learning. And then you need to help define some of the goals that you would have around a professional learning plan, and maybe some of those goals are that you want to really develop the skills so that you’re more effective in teaching all learners in the classroom and so maybe that’s a goal. And that, by the way, you would develop a sort of action steps around that. You would set up – you would actually have a way to measure your progress in that, but absolutely. So that learner profile can be used equally because you are a learner, we all are.


Tom Murray:              Yeah. One of the things we often share at Future Ready, we had our Future Ready Philadelphia Institute last week and one of the challenges we put to school leaders quite often is, you know, is are we modeling what we’re asking our kids to do, and if –.


Kathleen McClaskey:  [Laughs]


Tom Murray:              _____ our kids to take ownership of their learning –.


Kathleen McClaskey:  Right.


Tom Murray:              I’ve never met a teacher, Kathleen, that doesn’t expect that for their own kids.


Kathleen McClaskey:  Right.


Tom Murray:              You back that up a level, then we need to expect that of ourselves.


Kathleen McClaskey:  That’s right, absolutely.


Tom Murray:              _____ _____ need to be expecting of their selves and modeling for their staff as well. So I love how you phrase that, I think that’s so important. Let’s dive into that three-step process. You know, when you – you noted that three-step process, you used the universal design for learning, the UDL lens of access, engage and express. So can you explain more about the UDL lens and why schools should really use it to help create learner-centered environments?


Kathleen McClaskey:  Absolutely. So this is really so important for everyone to relate to and see. And first, that in the reauthorization of our education act, ESSA, it’s recognized and indicated in this particular legislation that universal design for learning is a scientifically based approach to personalized learning. Well, universal design for learning is based on the neurosciences and how we learn, and the UDL lens was developed so that the principles of UDL could be used in daily practice by both teachers and learners.

We developed a more practical way to apply that UDL principles into daily practice by creating access, engage and express. So we changed the terms to reflect how a learner may access, engage and express, so multiple means of representation which is one of the UDL principles means actually access to the learner and how a learner accesses and processes information into useable knowledge. That truly is what access means.

Multiple means of engagement represents how a learner engages with content. Multiple means of expression actually represents express, you know, how a learner expresses what they know and understand. And understanding how each learner needs to access information and transform it into useable knowledge to engage with content and concepts and to express is important before designing instruction. Knowing who your learners are is extremely important before you design instruction.

So I also want to point out that each learner also have preferences and needs in each one of these areas, and in fact, if you were to ask them, they would probably share that with you. But let me just also point that that each learner could be – say – I’ll give you an example in expression. Each learner could be expressing through writing, storytelling, building, constructing, those are different ways, maybe doing multimedia.

But let me be clear, is that understanding learners from access, engage and express is really the very first step in creating learner-center personalized learning environments, and it’s also about giving the learner voice and choice in how they access, engage and express. Let me just point out that UDL can be used – is used with all learners. This is really something that every learner can be empowered with. And I really want to also say that personalized learning – here’s a takeaway, always starts with the learner, always starts with the learner, okay.


Tom Murray:              Yeah, absolutely. And, you know, from a Future Ready end, if you look at our framework, the heart and soul is the child, it’s the kid, and I think you’ve said it so incredibly well there, so certainly well said. You know, I do want to remind our viewers that the hashtag for today is Future Ready as always. Feel free to ask your questions on Twitter, we’ll try and get to some more of those if we can today.

You know, Kathleen, you talk about having each learner develop this personal learning plan. So can you give an example of a learner and what could be included in such a plan to help develop learner agency?


Kathleen McClaskey:  Yeah. So in fact, you know, I’m actually gonna, for a moment, actually share my screen because I pulled up a few slides, I think, that would really help the audience. Let me see if I can go up here and share. Let’s see if that actually comes up, I’m not too sure. I don’t know if anyone –.


Tom Murray:              Yep.


Kathleen McClaskey:  Is it up?


Tom Murray:              Yep, just go ahead and play the slide.


Kathleen McClaskey:  Okay. So here is – take a look at the process here, and about the learning profile, personal learning backpack and personal learning plan. So I’m gonna give you some sort of – let me just make that a little bit bigger so that you actually see that. The next thing is, here is a learner profile, and this learner profile, by the way, is a learner who I want to outline their strengths, first of all.

This is a learner that can visualize what the hear, they’re dot connectors, they love to lead and collaborate with other kids, they love to draw, tell stories, great presenter and speaker. But the challenges are – now, so if you’re always thinking about the strengths, just really discover that in every child, okay, but this learner has some significant challenges. He often doesn’t understand what he’s reading. He has trouble focusing. He doesn’t like doing difficult tasks ’cause he has a hard time organizing – has a hard time putting notes on paper, but also has – and finds note taking really difficult.

So a lot of language-based challenges here. But notice all the other things about this particular learner, being curious, imaginative, here is his interests and talents. He’s passionate about fishing, having a business one day, but he loves to story tell and he has some really strong interests. So let me just point out what the next step would be.

It would be really that backpack, by the way, it’s about tools, apps, resources, about developing skills and strategies around those, and developing the first learning goals. And so here is what a backpack would really include for this particular learner. The preferences and needs for this learner is that he says I need to use a text-to-speech tool for reading and I prefer to use video for understanding. So those are important elements for you to understand about the learner. But if you develop a backpack for this learner, he probably could use an iPad for sure or some sort of device where it has a speech-to-text app or tool. He could also use a Chromebook or whatever and use like Read and Write, which has – there is a – Read and Write is a Chrome app that you can use.

Under engage, he needs tasks to be broken down, so he – into smaller tasks. He prefers to work with a partner. So one of the things that you want to teach or like this, under engage, is to help him organize because, boy, if kids have a challenge around organization you’ve got to give them a system to organize, and I’ve been teaching folder and file management skills for the last 20 years to just about everybody and how important this particular piece is. And there’s a lot of good apps that actually help you create and break things into smaller tasks. Just remember, this is a learner that really needs to learn how to use these tools really well so they can support their own learning.

And under express, this is a kid that he loves to present orally, by the way, but he has a hard time with note taking and likes graphic organizers. So there’s certainly definitely tools and apps that can do that and that’s part of his toolkit, and Note Ability is a very important tool for kids that have that particular challenge around note taking.

But notice how I also have included in here that I have actually – he wanted to learn how to create presentations using iMovie. So it’s not always just supporting the challenges a learner has but also enhancing their strengths. So this is a kid that loves to present, let’s give him the tools and get to be a star and to shine in the things that he’s great at, okay.

And last is a plan, and the personal learning plan, by the way – and this is one example of a personal learning plan, and this is an access goal, about using a text-to-speech tool. Notice that – we actually have to teach kids goal setting, how to describe goals and also describe steps that they can take to meet the particular goal, and also show how they can sort of measure their own progress.

So I want you to think about some of the skills that kids are developing around developing a plan, you know. It’s first of all, goal setting, action planning, progress monitoring, and then actually reflection, always reflection in all of these, but teaching kids how to monitor their own progress as they’re working through a goal, okay. So that’s one type of goal.

And then here is a college and career goal. This little young man wants to really explore being a park ranger because he really loved that idea. And so here is just a great set of – a goal and a set of steps, and I’ll explain what an ELO is. Here in New Hampshire, where I live, in schools, kids in high school actually can develop what’s called extended learning opportunities and that’s what an ELO is, so just to sort of get back to – but anyway, I hope that really helps, and I’m gonna stop sharing right now. But this will actually be up on the site and I’m gonna share a few more slides and several resources that – around what I’ve talked about today in this webinar so that you’ll have those resources after the webinar.


Tom Murray:              Great, thank you for that, Kathleen. You know, one of the – two things that come to mind. One is the skillset that you’re building into that for students. I often laugh when I go to all these conferences or I hear people talk and how many times we’re talking about these 21st Century skills and 21st Century [crosstalk] –.


Kathleen McClaskey:  [Laughing]


Tom Murray:              I want to like scream and be like, guys, we’re 17 years in, like, we’ve been –.


Kathleen McClaskey:  Yeah.


Tom Murray:              For a long time, you know. What you’re really talking about, these are just life skills. These are skills –.


Kathleen McClaskey:  Yes.


Tom Murray:              Life moving forward.


Kathleen McClaskey:  Life skills.


Tom Murray:              Truly. And the other thing, Kathleen, that really jumped out at me, what you said that I was listening is, I like the – I really like the point that you make, you know, so many times what we do in education is deficit-model oriented, you know. We’ll look at data, we’ll make – or we’ll look at the important pieces, and we certainly need to consider that stuff. I’m not saying we don’t. But as opposed to the flipside of what strengths do kids have and how do we leverage those strengths to capture that agency?


Kathleen McClaskey:  Right.


Tom Murray:              And it’s an important question, it truly, truly is. So those visuals were very, very helpful, thank you for sharing that, certainly appreciate that.


Kathleen McClaskey:  Well, yeah, I’ll definitely share some more. But I can just say to you is that this is a system that can easily be put into place, and one of the things is that I’ve tried to really simplify and put things – I want teachers to put things into practice. So everything that I do is really how do I get – how will a teacher need to be able to use this, is my thinking all of the time. And so this is a very practical approach in using universal design for learning to create personalized learning environments and it’s so empowering, by the way, for the learner.

And I mean I wish I could capture some pictures that I have in my _____ when kids finally discover and can talk about who they are as learners and actually be thrilled and say, you know what, you know, I have some trouble with this. Can you imagine kids coming up to you and saying to you, gees, you know what, you know, I really have a challenge in this particular area and I would really like to learn? Wouldn’t it be great if kids could come up and say that to you. That’s that ownership. You see, when you empower kids you can give them ownership. You can say it’s okay to talk about your challenges, it’s okay to say, hey, you know what, I love to talk but I really – I love to talk in public, I love to present and I love to be a public speaker and I’d really like to get better at that. And then that’s a skill, then that’s a starting point. That’s that conversation with saying, well, let’s think about ways you can do that.


Tom Murray:              Yeah.


Kathleen McClaskey:  We’re there to empower every learner to be anything they want to be on the planet.


Tom Murray:              Yeah.


Kathleen McClaskey:  Okay. And I am – as you can tell, I’m personally passionate about this. All this lives in my heart, okay, so I’ll just reveal – you know, my heart’s on my sleeve all the time. But I just cannot tell you how empowering this is in the classroom.


Tom Murray:              Yeah, absolutely. You know, one of the [crosstalk-interference] you’re pushing my thinking on a little bit here. One of our aspects related to Future Ready is the notion of relationships, and relationships with kids and, you know, we work with school leaders on how are they intentionally building those relationships –.


Kathleen McClaskey:  Right.


Tom Murray:              _____ _____ their staff. You know, it’s something I talk about all the time personally whenever I’m with people. But one of the pieces that you pushed even further is it’s not just the relationship in terms of being that trust and all that, and everybody will agree that that’s so vital –.


Kathleen McClaskey:  Mm-hmm.


Tom Murray:              The relationship in understanding and getting to know that kid so intimately that you understand how they learn best –.


Kathleen McClaskey:  Right.


Tom Murray:              Not that you just have that good relationship with them, and that’s that whole other level deeper to be effective in the classroom, and I really – that notion’s hit me as you’re talking, as I think through those pieces. So was there something else you were gonna say there?


Kathleen McClaskey:  No, I think that’s it, but it’s – again, you know, if, in fact, you know, we talk a lot about personalized learning environments and creating learner-centered environments. Well, first and foremost, we have to empower learners. I think is like the endgame. And the way that you do that is to get them to share those things. And just remember that this is gonna be a different environment for kids so there may be some adjustments, and I just want to point that out. That kids that – you can create these great environments but the kid has to know it’s happening for sure, because they’ve lived in this traditional classroom where all they had to do was just do the right thing or if you’re not learning very well just ignore what the teacher is saying, you see, because that’s truly what happens in reality.

But you need to create these environments where the learner can share these stories and tell how they learn and create this culture of learning and really a culture of respect among all the learners that it’s okay to share out your challenges and also your strengths, and just – and respecting each other as learners and that we all are different. Because in the end, in that action plan, by the way, sometimes a learner may ask another learner to teach him something, you see.


Tom Murray:              Yeah, absolutely.


Kathleen McClaskey:  And not the teacher, okay. So a lot of people will say, well, how do I do all of this? This has got to be a focus. First of all, the focus needs to be around agency; 100 percent of the kids develop agency, that needs to be the focus in education. That truly is the big picture, and UDL and personalized learning can get you there, okay. And we need to promise kids agency ’cause we promise them nothing as they enter the door every day, we promise them nothing. But if you were to promise them agency, what a focus that would be in your schools, just some of my afterthoughts, Tom.


Tom Murray:              Yeah. You know, one of the things I often say around that topic, truly, and I believe it, is, you know, in those traditional environments that you were just speaking of a minute ago, how often do we school the love of learning right out of a child by the time they graduate?


Kathleen McClaskey:  Yes.


Tom Murray:              It is all about compliance and it’s not about that love for learning.


Kathleen McClaskey:  Right.


Tom Murray:              And so yes, such valid points there. Now, let me dive into another piece here, ’cause you’ve included, and you just referenced it a moment ago, the stages of personalized learning environments in both of your books that you’ve coauthored. Could you explain more about some of those stages, and then learner agency, how they go together?


Kathleen McClaskey:  Yeah. And in fact, I have a slide that I probably would like to share with you, but let me just sort of talk about this a little bit. So about five or six years ago, we developed the stages of personalized learning because what we discovered is that teachers were being asked to create learner-centered environments and they were pretty terrified at that point. So we developed the stages of personalized learning environments and it’s up to revision 5 and it’s actually in our second book.

But what we did around agency is that we pointed out that there are really seven elements of learner agency, and we’ve created some really great descriptions, but there is also some really great graphics around that that we also have created. But let me just explain what the – let me try to share that slide with you, let me go find it. All right, let’s see. Here we go. I’m gonna – am I – I’m not sharing yet, right, okay.


Tom Murray:              There you go.


Kathleen McClaskey:  Okay. So, here are the seven elements of learner agency, they’re voice, choice, motivation, engagement, ownership, purpose and self-efficacy. And these seven elements really sort of are – actually, you’ll see little graphics there because with each one there is a set of graphics that actually illustrate what they look like over the stages of personalized learning environments. So let me just give you a brief overview of that.

So the stage one is still teacher centered but giving learner voice and choice, okay. And stage two is basically learner centered and – no, I don’t want to – sorry about that. Let me – it’s just moving on its own, so let me just leave that here. And learner centered is where learner and teachers are co-designing and the kids are being more self-directed, and of course, the last is – the last stage is stage three, and that’s learner driven and where kids are really directing their own learning. They’re deigning their own projects. And so this is truly when they have achieved complete agency. Learner centered they also have developed.

But I am gonna – I’ll leave that and then I’ll share that piece on learner agency with all of you so that you can actually see that. So let me see if I have any of the thoughts about this. Let’s see.

So, by the way, we thought about these elements from a blog series that we did with the Institute for Personalized Learning a couple years ago, and we wanted to help teachers understand that there is a journey for everyone to develop agency, and each of the elements is a process really that’s defined along a continuum to help teachers and learners as they move from that teacher-centered to learner-centered to learn-driven. And basically, the terminology in the stages of personalized learning illustrates the process that schools can take, by the way, to create learner-centered – not just learner-centered but learner-driven environments where learners take the lead in their learning.

So one of the ones I want to point out that you should take a close look to, all seven elements are great, but I have this preference about learner voice and the continuum of voice, and this is where learners begin in a teacher-centered environment where they offer opinions and answers, and then they move to a learner-centered environment where they start articulating goals and they collaborate with teachers and peers. And finally, in a learner-driven environment voice is where the learner can lead the change with the group or maybe over an issue or a problem, but this is truly when learners are really driving their learning and their environment. Sorry, anyway.


Tom Murray:              No, thank you for sharing that. And you’ve referenced we a few times. I want to give Barbara Bray a shout, your coauthor on that.


Kathleen McClaskey:  Right.


Tom Murray:              And the fabulous work. You guys have done amazing work together over the years. But we are at our time. I do want to close with one final question here.


Kathleen McClaskey:  Okay.


Tom Murray:              We have a lot of viewers today, they’re watching, and I’m sure they’re in their classrooms, they’re in their schools or in their districts, they’ve taken various steps, they’re trying certain things. What advice would you give to schools and to districts on some first steps that they can take to create these learner-centered environments so that every learner can be future ready?


Kathleen McClaskey:  Wow, what a great question, Tom. So, just like the phrase it takes a village, well, it takes the whole school community and key stakeholders to develop a shared vision and a belief system to transform teaching and learning, and so building personalized learning environments is all about the people in the community. And my advice is to first bring the stakeholders together in your community and create a shared vision around personalized learning and that may take some time.

But the next step is to create a set of shared beliefs around learners and learning, teachers and teaching in your community. And in order to build a personalized system that’s sustainable, a foundation, beliefs about learners, teachers and learning communities needs to be established by all the stakeholders in the community, and each community needs to know and understand that the community values what they – the community values the education of their children.

So keep in mind, again, that personalized learning is a culture shift. It is not a new initiative, and I’m gonna repeat myself because I go to lots of schools and they think, oh, here is another initiative and then I sort of point out that personalized learning is not about an initiative, it’s a culture shift. You’re gonna be moving from a traditional to a personalized learning environment, the culture needs to change. It’s about transforming teaching and learning and every school or district is unique with different demographics, issues and concerns. So it’s important to provide opportunities for all stakeholders to have a voice in this transition to personalized learning.


Tom Murray:              That is awesome. And wow, the overlap there to everything you just said to what we’re really trying to work with school leaders and Future Ready is absolutely dynamic. Again, the book – the most recent one, at least, is How to Personalize Learning. I encourage you to check that out, amazing, amazing work there with Barbara and Kathleen. And Kathleen, thank you so much for your time today.

You know, I do want to remind our viewers that information on the Future Ready effort can be found at We encourage and challenge district superintendents to join over 3,100 other superintendents from around the nation in signing the Future Ready District Pledge. We also encourage our school leaders watching today to join us at one of this year’s Future Ready Institutes. We were in Philadelphia last week. We’ve got New Orleans coming up in about a week and a half or so, Sacramento and Detroit left in 2017, and hope to be announcing 2018 in the next month to month and a half there as well.

I do want to encourage our viewers to also get involved with our new and growing strands from district leadership to IT to principals, librarians and instructional coaches. We have vastly expanded the reach of Future Ready Schools , so check out some of our closed Facebook groups in those areas as well and some of the ongoing activities that we have there too.

I do want to finally thank Kathleen again today for joining us and investing her time, so thank you, Kathleen, as well you, our viewers, for joining for this Future Ready Webinar. Don’t forget to connect with us here at Future Ready on Twitter at Future Ready and on Facebook at

We also hope you can join us actually tomorrow for a Future Ready Librarians Webinar with Shannon Miller and some others on Building Instructional Partnerships. If you missed any of today’s conversation, it’ll be archived at _____ dot org slash webinars soon after this webinar. On that page you can also see a list of upcoming webinars. You can find all of the alliances, Google Hangouts on our YouTube channel as well.

And for those of you taking a part in our Action Academy Badging Platform, the password for today is very, very fitting, it’s agency. Thank you again for joining us here at Future Ready and have a fabulous day. We’ll see you next time.


Kathleen McClaskey:  Thank you, Tom.


Tom Murray:              Thanks, Barbara. Uh, Barbara, thanks Kathleen, excuse me, thanks, Kathleen. Thanks, Kathleen.


Kathleen McClaskey:  That’s all right.


Tom Murray:              Take care.


Kathleen McClaskey:  Bye.


[End of Audio]

Categories: Future Ready

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One Comment

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    Posted 4 years ago

    Hello, Thank you for very good webinar.Good luck! With best regards, Ingrida

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