The Benefits of Personal Statements and Capturing Student Voice in a Blended Learning Era
As education has abruptly shifted to remote and blended learning, finding innovative ways to capture student voice is critical. The definition of student success is also changing. More and more, local school systems are beginning to move beyond traditional means of assessment like standardized test scores. While these metrics are valuable, they don’t represent the whole child. To better understand each student, schools must measure a multi-dimensional and personalized set of indicators, such as goals, interests and aspirations that capture the student perspective. And while establishing this framework is the first hurdle, actually collecting meaningful data presents another challenge. Often, the key to success in effectively measuring whole child indicators lies in fostering student engagement. The more a student cares, after all, the more likely an educator will be able to accurately assess their mindset.
One way to facilitate long-term engagement is by having students write personal statements. Fairly self-explanatory, personal statements are brief writing submissions from students that should include aspirations, hobbies, likes, dislikes – anything a student feels is important to share. There are several benefits from writing personal statements, as they encourage students to reflect and express themselves, reinforcing social and emotional learning concepts. Additionally, having a range of personal statements from different points in a student’s educational experience enable teachers to better understand and know their classes.
Keeping a record of these statements over time is an invaluable asset toward measuring whole child growth. ECRA’s Personalized Learner Profile (PLP) app helps facilitate this process, providing a dedicated tile in which students can add new entries over time. In partnering with several districts, our client success team has seen the use of personal statement writing firsthand. Many districts have students write personal statements several times in a calendar year. Educators have expressed how powerful this student reflection can be, and how their personalities come out in their writing.
“The key to success in effectively
measuring whole child indicators
lies in fostering student engagement.”
There are various insights to be gained from these personal statements. Along with the previously mentioned value as a writing exercise, engaging students by asking them to share in an open-ended format enables educators to better understand how each student is developing, which is essential given the constraints of physical distance between students and educators. This communication channel where students can freely express themselves also helps cultivate interpersonal relationships between students and educators, giving the latter the resources necessary to connect and engage with a student on a more personal level. The openness provided by this channel is not just limited to educators, either; depending on how a district manages its settings, parents will also be able to read their child’s personal statements on the app.
To effectively measure whole child growth, communication and engagement are vital. Having students write personal statements is an exercise that can aid districts in engaging students and measuring what matters. But gathering this information is only part of the process. To manage the complex task of examining whole child indicators and developing strategic insights, the PLP app is a valuable tool. To learn more about how you can measure whole child growth with the PLP, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.