Education

Educators from across the state came to Temple Monday to learn about how to use more personalized teaching techniques from Google and Education Elements.

Temple Independent School District hosted The National Academy for Personalized Learning in its new administration building on Santa Fe Way. Consultants from Education Elements led most of the training sessions, with additional material presented by Google for Education Texas.

About 60 people attended the seminar, coming from as far away as Dallas and the suburbs of Houston. Most participants were school and school district administrators, with a few teachers as well. Temple Superintendent Bobby Ott said the event went well and the district would be open to hosting similar events in the future.

Cassi Caputo, an education program manager with Google, led participants in an exercise to brainstorm ways they could improve their classrooms.

“Empathetic listening is fundamental to good innovation,” Caputo said. “The more experience you have, that can weirdly be a disadvantage, because … as time changes and how quickly technology changes, our presumptions can tend to get more and more off track.”

Caputo encouraged participants to consider every idea they have, even bad ones.

“We’re not going to get the right answer today; we’re not going to end up really designing the classroom of 2028 … we’re learning, we’re practicing, it is OK to fail,” she said.

Education Elements bills itself as a personalized learning consultancy. Associate partner Natalie Woods spoke about what personalized learning means.

“Personalized learning can be done without computers — that is a reality. But a lot of times people think blended learning or personalized learning is technology,” Woods said. “You’re going to have to … debunk that myth.”

Participants said they were learning a lot from the seminar.

“I’ve learned just a more open way to think,” Paul Jomini said.

Jomini came from NYOS Charter School in Austin. Monica Sallenberger from the Klein Independent School District in Harris County also enjoyed the event.

“A lot of times we’ve got to think outside the box to be innovative, and if you just sit around and ask questions, sometimes it doesn’t work. So having the protocol to stretch beyond the normal decision-making is nice to have,” Sallenberger said.

Sallenberger said she would be sharing what she learned with campus administrators and instructional coaches in her district.