Instructional Look Fors

Personalized learning has the potential to empower learners to lead successful and fulfilling lives, yet shifting teaching and learning practices are significant undertakings. Schools, systems, and their many stakeholders have voiced a need for clarity on what personalized learning entails at both the learning environment and learning community levels, an articulation of capacities and mindsets needed to implement new personalized learning practices, and confidence that the changes they are making will positively impact outcomes for learners.

The Instructional Look Fors provide a set of observable indicators that depict how educators can create and support desired behaviors and outcomes for their learners in personalized learning environments. These Instructional Look Fors were developed through a partnership with Transcend, Summit Public Schools, and Lindsay Unified School District from 2017 through 2019.

The Instructional Look Fors are informed by research conducted by Columbia’s Center for Public Research and Leadership, the literature on learner-centered instruction, personalized learning, and learning science as well as ongoing research and the practice-based experience of Lindsay, Summit, and Transcend. In addition to incorporating the experience of the two school models, the Instructional Look Fors were designed using an inclusive process with input and feedback from a diverse set of educators and school and system leaders, as well as leading experts in personalized learning, to ensure many (and particularly historically underrepresented) perspectives were reflected in the content.

When done well, personalized learning has the potential to foster equitable outcomes amongst learners; this resource aims to support that goal.

The 26 Look Fors, each with their associated educator and learner indicators, define ideal personalized learning environments, organized into the six guiding Principles shown below:

Learners stretch themselves intellectually and personally by engaging with skills, habits, and content in challenging, developmentally appropriate ways.

Learners engage in experiences tailored to their learning needs, preferences for how to learn, and specific developmental levels.

Learners work with effort and energy to accomplish goals that connect to a meaningful purpose, and they are aware of their progress toward achieving these goals at all times.

Learners recognize the significance that learning activities and objectives have to their interests and goals, prior knowledge, and real-world, culturally relevant contexts.

Learners work together to create a joint product, cooperatively solve a problem, or co-construct their understanding of a topic.

Learners are deeply known as individuals and are part of a school that is positive, secure, and open to all backgrounds and perspectives.

Find more about the Instructional Look Fors in the original Look Fors guide.