If you say flexible learning models to the average person, they are going to ask, “What does that even mean?” To be honest, there are educators who aren’t well versed and familiar with what flexible learning models are and what they could potentially grow to be. I believe, flexible learning models are an intricate part of the puzzle to reimagining education.
Flexible is the key word in the phrase flexible learning models. However, the main idea of flexible learning models is to ensure that students are presented learning materials, lessons, and engagement through innovative ways. Being able to learn outside of the box is sort of like the changing of the guard. The box, figuratively and physically representing a traditional four wall classroom no longer has to be the be all end all of how children and adults learn.
In order to make flexible learning models successful, public schools have to have a greater investment in special education, accelerated learning programs, paraeducators, and technology. My experience working as a special education teacher has shown me that students can learn in various types of environments if they have the right teachers and educators who are equipped and prepared to help them find the best pathway for them to be successful in their gifts.
For example, at the onset of the pandemic I often have shared the story of how I turned my virtual classroom into a tv show. It was a little mix of BET’s “Teen Summit” with elements of the “Ricki Lake Show.” The drama came from the hot topics we would discuss in class based on the curriculum and infused with real life situations. The big win is the practicality and engagement is what drove the students’ progress and academic achievement. My students were able to see learning outside of the grading scale of A – F. Students who would not pass standardized tests, school assessments, or even class homework assignments were suddenly in a turnaround process that worked.
Flexible learning models work when there is an intentional focus of the instructional and leadership team on meeting the needs of every child.
I believe more public schools should invest in each classroom having a science lab, breakout rooms, a social area, collaborative work spaces, and a study hall. We should be including the study of such items like comic books and cartoons in art classes as early as elementary school.
I also believe that flexible learning models help drastically improve student discipline. However, you’ll have to stay tuned to this platform for my follow up piece to learn more.
Here are some areas schools must invest in to have effective flexible learning models:
We must do what is best for kids. We have to go beyond saying this statement and move towards actions to make this statement a reality.