Guest post by Dr. Amy Mathews-Perez, @drgrowtoknow
All growth happens in a cycle. Every cycle has various “phases” or “stages.” Simple examples include laundry, our workday, a car purchase, sunrise, sunset and even various bodily functions. As Educators, our cycle includes the beginning of a school year with new students (unless you’re looping), the middle of a school year and the end of a school year, and we can all relate to the growth that occurs during these phases of the cycle we call “a school year.” Growth for our students and growth for ourselves. Once I realized this about cycles, it allowed me to have a better understanding of where I was in the cycle (whichever one I was reflecting about at the time.) The cycle that I have found most beneficial is the cycle I have curiously named KLAR. With my 30 years serving special education, the majority of which are in the special education arena, you will not be surprised that I love and consistently use acronyms. I think in acronyms, I make them up and I redefine real ones just for fun. So, HWG! (Here We Go!)
My Twitter handle is @drgrowtoknow. I came up with that years ago before I even knew how to use Twitter, but even waaaay back then I was in tune with the facts that (1) there was so much more for me to know, (2) I wanted to grow in knowledge/skills and (3) the best way to grow was to start at #1. Fast forward to the present, I can now describe my cycle as KLAR: Know, Learn, Apply, Repeat.
KNOW: We know that there is more to learn. However, to maximize the KLAR cycle there must be intention: What exactly do we want to know? Why do we want to know it? Where is the information? In other words, the KNOW part of KLAR does not mean to consume as much information as possible. The KNOW part of the KLAR cycle means that there is something specific that you realize you need to know more about in order to improve yourself, expand your skill set, obtain new insights, etc.; self realization of a need for knowledge. EXAMPLE — I need to know more about AI.
LEARN: At this stage of the cycle we are learning on purpose. We all learn — sometimes by incident, sometimes by accident, sometimes from reflection and sometimes from rejection. What we learn can be greatly influenced by the circumstances, which is why at this stage of the KLAR cycle, LEARN must be defined as Intentionally seeking information for a specific reason. EXAMPLE — I read multiple articles/blogs, watched videos, interviewed 2 people and followed 4 people on Twitter that teach about using AI to write measurable goals and objectives for IEPs.
APPLY: This is when we use the learning with purpose. This stage of the KLAR cycle can be the most beneficial if we collaborate with a trusted friend, coach or accountability partner. Role-playing is another effective way to apply learning. If you are intuitively reflective or simply exceptional at self-reflection, you may not need the support of another person in determining the effectiveness of your application of learning. Again (see the theme?) — being purposeful regarding the circumstances, the people and your intention when applying your learning will maximize this step. EXAMPLE — I drafted one goal for each of the following content areas for a specific student: Math, RLA, Science, Transition and Post-Secondary. I asked two peers to review the goals for accuracy and effectiveness.
REPEAT: This part of KLAR is self-explanatory, no doubt. However, the repetition begins with the realization (and hopefully celebration) of your growth! Next, repeat the first stage of the KLAR cycle. Based on your recent experience in applying your new knowledge, how are you different? What information do you need to seek next? For what purpose? EXAMPLE — My goals included four of the key elements of a good goal (timeframe, condition, behavior, criteria) -this is the celebration part. 🙂 However, they were not specific enough for the student. Now I know I need to refer to the student’s FIE and PLAAFP in order to make the goals more individualized.
Each KLAR cycle provides learning, increases awareness and facilitates growth. Growth happens…it may be small, it may be monumental, it may just be the tweak that leads you to your next “Ah-ha!” You may even choose to ignore the growth because it makes you uncomfortable…but growth happens. KLAR provides us with a way to reflect and help ourselves grow on purpose. If you are an educator, your “school year cycle” is clearly marked as a new beginning, but it is my hope that you experience KLAR year-round.
Happy growing! About The Author
Texas-born & raised, I am finishing my 30th year of serving public education where I have served as a General Ed. Teacher, an SLP, Diagnostician, SPED Supervisor, Principal, an Assistant Principal and a Director of Special Education. I currently serve a central Texas school district as a Director of Special Programs which includes Special Education, 504, Dyslexia, MTSS, and the Liaison for students experiencing Foster Care and/or Homelessness. My passions are communication, laughter, and authenticity and I am happiest when I get to use those things to inspire & empower others. As a learner, I consider myself an “Experience Expert” because I learn from every experience. Life is short but our influence is never ending, so I seek joy and create smiles through connecting, sharing, and highlighting the best in others. If you share any of my passions, I’d like to connect with you! My Twitter handle is DrAmyMP@drgrowtoknow
Looking for some PD for your school? I provide in-person and virtual training on the following topics. If you want to learn more about and explore AI and ChatGPT, contact me to schedule! Rdene915@gmail.com