Schools that bring personalization to scale share common traits

Middle school boy wearing a uniform sitting in class working on a laptop

The new and ever changing economy, new technology and the opportunity to learn anytime anywhere has created a unique teaching and learning environment like none ever before. These new environments and opportunities give schools the ability to personalize learning and create better outcomes for their students. With the right tools, supports and resources, teachers can personalize learning for every student based on their current understandings, demonstrated mastery and passions.

As defined by The International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL), personalized learning is defined as, “Tailoring learning for each student’s strengths, needs and interests-including enabling student voice and choice in what, how when and where they learn-to provide flexibility and supports to ensure mastery of the highest standards possible.”

What traits make a classroom or school fully personalized? The following traits are found in schools that are personalizing learning for every student in every classroom:


  • Students attain the skills and mindsets needed to succeed now, in college and in career.
  • Students receive frequent feedback from their teacher(s), school support staff and peers.
  • Students have choice and autonomy.  
  • Students have the opportunity to access resources to progress at their personal rate of learning.
  • Students have a personal learning plan that is created by the student, their parents and their teacher(s) that provides a path for learning that addresses their individual needs and learning style.
  • Students are learning at their own pace.
  • Students demonstrate agency.


  • Educators are highly effective and professionally engaged.
  • Educators create lessons and plans that help students achieve deeper learning outcomes.
  • Educators have planned curriculum and outcomes but are flexible and fluid on how and when students “get there.”
  • Educators spend time getting to know students so they can help gear learning toward personal interests.


  • Classrooms provide flexible pacing.
  • Content, time and modality are differentiated.

A shift from traditional teaching and learning to a personalized approach changes the dynamic between teachers and students. In personalized classrooms teachers are taking on a new role as more of a mentor, coach and facilitator while voice and choice is given to students. Giving students agency over their learning that’s also organized around their interests and passions makes them feel more valued and creates motivation.

While there are many cases of individual teachers doing what they can to meet the needs of students in their classrooms, a growing number of schools, districts and networks are promoting common practices and advancing personalization through collaboration, teamwork and dedication.

Explore more resources to help you take personalization to the next level.