5320 Contribution to My Learning and the Learning Community

I am wrapping up my journey with Lamar this term with Synthesis of ADL: 5320.  This course required the use of multiple pieces of work that I have completed with previous instructors. This meant that I was able to revisit pieces that I felt were not finished to my liking and polish them up just a bit. WIth that, I found this course to be one of my most helpful so far. Being given the time to go back and look at where I started with my Innovation Project and compare it to where I am currently has definitely helped this whole process come full circle. 

My groups look a bit different for this course. Only one of my former group members, Maria Rodman, is still taking classes with me but I was also still able to utilize my other group members that have already finished the program.  We were able to collaborate daily through GroupMe chats. The feedback she provided on my updated innovation plan and connecting all the pieces for the implementation were extremely helpful.

One of the first tasks that I took on was revisiting my original innovation plan and starting the update process. Not much had changed since the beginning but enough that it needed a bit of a revamp. In doing so, I realized just how much of the planning process I had actually soaked up. Taking these steps out into other projects is going to be such a great benefit!

In my discussion posts for this course, I read the required materials and watch the videos that were assigned before responding to others.This semester I have been working on my work-life-school balance. This is the first course that I have felt it lean more to one side and the adjustment has not been easy. I started the course off with an empty plate and schedule and I was expecting myself to stay ahead of the discussions and assignments. I found myself putting things off simply because I felt like I had to choose certain tasks to complete.  Time management for this course had to be my focus and needed to be kept front and center or else I found myself procrastinating.

My self grade for 5320 Synthesis of Applied Digital Learning Capstone is a 91/100  because I met all key contributions and supporting contributions for this class. I do acknowledge that there is always room for improvement in time management, collaborating and learning.

 I am so pleased with the program here at Lamar and enjoyed every bit of learning and growing that I got to experience. The professors truly enjoy what they are doing and it’s so very evident that this program is something special to each of them. Thank you for a wonderful experience Lamar!

5318 Contribution to my Learning and the Learning Community

For the second Fall session at Lamar I was in the EDLD 5318 Instructional Design course. Out of  all of the other courses I have taken, 5318 was the one that really allowed me to start making connections and putting things in place for my professional learning course. Using connections I was able to pull from 5313 where we touched base on what effective professional learning looked like, my course design now has come full circle with having to plan how to implement strategies of CSLE and teach my campus what this would look like while working through our professional learning on ePortfolio, More times than not those connections were made because of the team we have created from the very beginning.  Fully confident that I would not have made it through feeling as confident as I do without the help of  Avery N., Lindsay H., Maria R., Michelle R., Robin B., and Lindsey W. We have utilized our GroupMe Chats to support and answer questions daily, meet up weekly to discuss assignments and debrief from class videos and help to make sure we were all on the same page. 

Using the feedforward feedback from my teammates and Dr. Bellard I was able to  take a fresh look at my material and adjust when needed. Sometimes it was as simple as moving a link on my professional learning plan, or changing the order in which I present things. 

5318 had me pulling all of my pieces that were created in other classes together to begin forming one cohesive Instructional Design for Professional Learning. This gave me time and opportunity to organize my thoughts and the learning process in which I was looking to follow. Prior to this course my objectives were misaligned with my content and my expectations of participants were not as clear as they should have been. Using my implementation timeline and reshaping the outline for the course has most definitely helped form a cohesive piece that is almost ready to offer on campus. The usability testing that was done allowed me to receive very influential feedback from other teachers on my team as well as from my administrators. From their feedback and participation input I was able to make changes and adjust the course. 

In my discussion posts for this course, I read the required materials and watch the videos that were assigned before responding to others. I also cited my assignments and responses from others in class. This semester I have been working on my work-life-school balance. This is the first course that I have felt it lean more to one side and the adjustment has not been easy. I started the course off with an empty plate and schedule and I was expecting myself to stay ahead of the discussions and assignments. I found myself putting things off simply because I felt like I had to choose certain tasks to complete.  Time management for this course had to be my focus and needed to be kept front and center or else I found myself procrastinating.

My self grade for 5318 Instructional Design Online Learning is a 91/100  because I met all key contributions and supporting contributions for this class. I do acknowledge that there is always room for improvement in time management, collaborating and learning.

Is it long enough?

We have tools to measure for lengths of all sorts of things in our lives……everything except professional learning. How do we begin to judge if it’s long enough or not quite there yet? Peer feedback? Audience engagement?

Does having a shorter video to watch mean more engagement and willingness to do it? For me, I think it’s a toss up. Sometimes I see that the video, or presentation isn’t long at all and find myself zoning out simply because there isn’t enough time for me to gain a deep focus of what I’m hearing or seeing. I think we need to find a happy medium that is shorter but long enough to give all important information. Walk and Talks are my favorite way to collaborate and connect with others. Having a busy body allows my mind to really focus on the conversation at hand and give it my full attention. If I’m asked to sit and talk, that’s exactly what happens, we sit and talk about something completely different than our focus at the time. Allowing educators to participate in that type of PL opens so many other possibilities for what PL could look like. When you realize we are gaining more from the shorter and active sessions, why would anyone want to go back to something that is quickly becoming stagnant?

Living in Growth

The first few weeks of a new school year are the most challenging and frustrating times in my classroom. Getting to know new kiddos, new schedules and flow, and the inevitable “this is too hard” comments. A couple of years ago I started responding with a simple “I’m sorry” and pointing to a chart hanging on the walls titled “Change my words”. I never gave more of a response and didn’t offer a way out of their uncomfortableness. Some felt their only option was to grab an answer from another student but many times they were shut down and shooed away. This was always  met with the loudest groans and mumbling about being ignored but slowly those changed. They began to realize that I didn’t care that they weren’t perfect and didn’t get the content YET. They realized that what I needed from them was to change the way they were voicing their frustrations. Back then I didn’t realize I was asking them to change their mindset and get gritty with their content!

 Within the first month of school, their words didn’t have to be met with “I’m sorry”. Instead, they were able to voice frustrations or troubles in a way that opened up the doors for us to communicate about the situation and not just have it fixed by a teacher. 

Questions and Curiosity

Can you prepare learners to question and be curious or is it something they are born doing? I think all kids are born questioning life and everything out there and are so very curious about what lays ahead but something changes it. Blaming just the education system sounds a bit harsh but it truly might be. Kids are brought to school to learn and grow and become future leaders….or at least that’s what we tell ourselves. On the contrary students come to school and are immediately immersed in the collection and the connections are stifled. I don’t do it purposefully, more out of habit and sense of feeling rushed to cover content. It’s much easier to tell Johnny we can visit that question later in the day and move on with our “have to know” content. Much easier but much less impactful. 

I didn’t learn like I know my students need to learn. That’s why the transition from learning styles seems to be so difficult. What I do know though is that allowing my students to take the time to be curious and ask questions, reinforces those connections and creativity.

Lead to Tow

I’m not a great storyteller but I like to think I’m a phenomenal listener. I like to focus on the smaller details that others usually miss. Watch facial expressions and reactions of others and build on what I’m hearing. Professional learning doesn’t exist consistently in my district….yet. We are making small gains but not quickly enough for my liking. When given the opportunity to choose who I attend PD from I’ve learned who tells the best, most relatable stories and that’s where i go. Not only is it entertaining, but it makes it relevant and I take more from it. 

My role as the presenter is to gain the trust of my audience and allow them to follow me on the journey that we should all be going on together. I don’t want them to feel like it’s every man for himself. Trying as hard as I can I will not have every educator in my boat at the same time though. Some will just not care enough at the time to buy in, others will have hesitations due to other buy-in that didn’t last. The only thing I can do is continue to tell them the story and offer to take them along even if it’s on a raft being towed behind. 

Change of Scenery

 If you’re ever comfortable where you’re at…..you need a change of scenery. This is true for students and adults! Adults aren’t much more willing than students are to make those changes though. Kids need to see adults and their peers work through those times that they are unsure of the outcome and really get a sense of what it is like. I was never ok with having my students correct my mistakes or help me through tough content up until about 3 years ago. I realized then that this was what the majority of my kids needed in order to feel like they could open up in class and participate with less fear! What they have to know is that uncomfortable feelings don’t last forever!

Are you a connector or collector?

Teaching our students to make meaningful connections should be the goal of every educator. Easier said than done though. Something that we feel shouldn’t be so difficult to implement almost feels like a never ending losing battle. Why? Is it because we have to begin to undo the years of collections and fill that void with connections?

I believe that, like myself, many educators are just a product of their own learning experiences. We weren’t taught to make connections so how can I feel confident in my abilities to teach my own students to do so. Maybe that’s the point. Comfort has only gotten us in a repetitive cycle and it’s not looking like someone, or lots of someone’s, are going to jump ship anytime soon to change it.

Maybe stepping out of your comfort zone one class at a time is where the change starts. 

Reform or Revolution?

I find it quite difficult to think that our education system today is nothing more than the carrot and stick. State standards, tests, and grading are nothing less than a show of who can master which concept. My students do not master all concepts in 5th grade for a variety of reasons. Some within my control and theirs, others not so much. 

I would be lying if I said the majority of my teaching thus far has been the carrot and stick. Embarrassingly I have never experienced anything different until starting here at Lamar. How could I possibly teach any other way?

 Sir Ken Robinson is such a phenomenal speaker. His level of bluntness is amazing! Sometimes that’s exactly what we need to hear for it to register. I hold on to the line where Sir Ken Robinson states that reform is of no use anymore. It simply improves a broken model. Our system needs to be completely transformed for any chance of making a difference in our children. 

I would love to believe that my evolving learning philosophy will completely change what goes on in my classroom next year. That is an unrealistic expectation to place upon myself. What I strive for next year is to see change in my environment with my students and allow them to excel in ways that haven’t been offered to them yet. 

TED. (2010, May 24). Bring on the learning revolution! | Sir Ken Robinson [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r9LelXa3U_I&feature=youtu.be

There’s No Crying in Professional Learning

Professional learning is so ineffective because it’s the same year after year. On the off chance that we are given something new and improved during one session, the expectation of implementation is unrealistic given everything else that is asked of teachers. This has been my gripe for years! I love some of the concepts and strategies that I have been introduced to but I have no time left over to dig deeper into them and find a way to implement faithfully. 

The Mirage reports were full of dollar amounts being spent on all of the professional learning that teachers are offered. I could honestly say I have no clue where that money is spent in my district minus the coaches that each subject and grade level has. Referring to this previous school year, I did not attend a single professional learning event that was put on but someone outside of my school district. I also was not offered any opportunity to attend or participate in anything that was not related to my specific content of math and science. Professional learning has so much more to do with reaching teachers on a personal level outside of the classroom that isn’t always focused on the subject taught. 

Can my organization change? Yes> Are they willing? History is telling me no. My part in Professional Learning is so small it’s almost non-existent. Starting with a small grain of change is better than none. 

Redefine, Reevaluate, Reinvent