New Culture in the Making?

From the moment we are born our parents speak uniqueness over us. As adults, we push for kids to find what makes them unique and embrace it! When those same kids step into a classroom their unique qualities just about disappear. It becomes extremely difficult to continue to march to your own beat when you are seen as nothing more than a pass or fail score on a test. This is the new normal. Maybe not so much new. Douglas Thomas nails it when he says that normalization is toxic.  Teachers are treated like all other teachers. Students like all others. Individualization and creativity is nonexistent in so many classrooms. 

I know I feel such a push to cover x,y, and z that there is little to no time left to teach creatively. No time for students to learn how to learn in a way that is productive and customized for them. Many of my students attend after school curriculum programs. I had almost double this year than what I have had in the years before. One of my parents opened up about what they love about it and why they chose it and it all boils down to the fact that their student is being given the opportunity to pull all of her interests together in one educational setting. This particular student loves to learn and her passion for it had started to dwindle as she moved through grade school. Why isn’t this something that all public schools offer? Why do we feel that our classrooms must be schedule constrained and an environment solely focused on successful scores?

TEDx Talks. (2012, September 12) A New Culture of Learning, Douglas Thomas at TEDxUFM [Video]. . https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lM80GXlyX0U

Concepts of Educational Technology- Learning Community

From start to finish in nine weeks, this course has been my favorite by a long shot. I feel like having a beginners start to COVA from the prior courses has allowed me to open my mind to change and really try to take it all in. It doesn’t always have to be the way it’s always been.

This course focused on moving out of a fixed mindset and into growth. This meant being accepting of failing at things we long to be perfect at. I have always been that kind of person in my classroom. I’ve pushed my kids out of perfection but never once thought of shoving myself. I will fail at some point, and thanks to Dr. Bedard, I have the resources and the will to move from that failure and learn to see it as an opportunity for growth and learning.

My learning community played such a major role for this course. Maria Rodman, Avery Nihill, LIndsey Wallace, Robin Ballard, Michelle Richey, Aliscia Drummond and Lindsay Hoerig-Cavanagh are some of the best educators and such inspirations. We’ve been together from the very first course back in January with Dr. H and I cannot picture moving forward without their wide range of expertise and willingness to be open and collaborate. Our group created a Google Slides deck when we first joined together so we could have one common place for all of our links and ideas and resources. This is something I use with every single assignment for feedback and ideas. We have used our GroupMe chat daily to keep up with assignments or just bounce ideas back and forth. I like that this is just one click on my phone and it’s so easy to connect with any of them. Outside of the realm of chats we made it a priority to attend Zoom meetings on Tuesday/Wednesday every week after class. This was more of a moral and emotional support for me than it was educational. I needed to hear that i was on the right path and some weeks just to clarify what I was supposed to be doing. Hearing it from these ladies just made it all alright.

One of the things I like about the courses I have taken at Lamar is that I have been required to do a self assess after completion. I respect this process because it puts the responsibility of my learning back where it belongs. My discussion posts were done within the time frame given. I feel that the conversations in this course were fantastic! The area I want to make improvements on is my discussion responses. I know I have more to offer than what I put out there during the last nine weeks. I want to make it a priority to try and make connections with others that aren’t necessarily on the same page as I am. It makes the process so much more beneficial when you have others willing to talk about their learning as well. Along with my discussion posts, all other assignments were completed and turned in before the deadline throughout the entire course.

Considering all of the pieces in my learning community and my role and responsibilities, I am giving myself a self-assessment score of 97.

Nine weeks came to a close much quicker than I had wanted. This course has changed who I am as an educator and a person. It is perfectly placed in my career of learning and I know the pieces I am taking from here will be so unbelievable beneficial to the rest of my time here at Lamar but also personally and professionally.

Wrapping Up 5302 Concepts of Educational Technology Compilation

Upon starting this course, I naively thought I would dabble in ways to implement technology in my classroom in way that felt more student focused and beneficial to them. I was nowhere near prepared for the amount of self growth I would experience in a measly 9 weeks. I believe this course came at the most opportune time in my life and teaching career. A time when I needed to feel uncomfortable in my career and yet feel guided towards change in a way I have not experienced before.

This course focused on moving out of a fixed mindset and into growth. This meant being accepting of failing at things we long to be perfect at. I have always been that kind of person in my classroom. I’ve pushed my kids out of perfection but never once thought of shoving myself. I will fail at some point, and thanks to Dr. Bedard, I have the resources and the will to move from that failure and learn to see it as an opportunity for growth and learning.

Concepts of Technology in Education required me to develop a Growth Mindset Plan focused on embracing that process myself but also encouraging my teammates to as well. The presentation I created is a very valuable tool I will be using to begin implementation of my innovation plan for my campus.

Probably one of my favorite pieces from this course was the Professional Learning Communities conversations. I have always felt like a secret educational shopper. I didn’t want anyone else to know that some activities in my classroom weren’t my own. Sounds ridiculous. 5302 blew those doors of secrecy wide open for me. There are millions of educators that use these learning communities just as much as I do and many of us utilize the same ones! Who would’ve thought! Having the support of the communities of fellow educators makes this career so much more doable. We are all in this together!

Finally, 5302 had me elbow deep in what my Learning Manifesto actually was. Up until this point, I had never thought about it. I’ve always known my “whys” and what I really felt passionate about but forcing yourself to put it out for others to see is a completely different ballgame. What I learned was that my why wasn’t just for me. It bled into all other areas of my life and made it difficult for me to focus on. Creating this manifesto helped narrow those areas down to something that was much more mangable. One of my most challenging and favorite assignments to date!

Nine weeks came to a close much quicker than I had wanted. This course has changed who I am as an educator and a person. It is perfectly placed in my career of learning and I know the pieces I am taking from here will be so unbelievable beneficial to the rest of my time here at Lamar but also personally and professionally.

CSLE+COVA

The COVA framework is not something I took to right away. I definitely had to ease myself through the book and the process. My first course felt like a free-for-all. No one was telling me what to do or how to do it just that it needed to be done by a certain date. Absolutely hated every minute the first couple of weeks! Had I known then what I know now I think I might have despised it a little less. Dr. H. did a phenomenal job at implementing COVA without really telling us what he was doing. Freedom to choose what we were doing, what it looked like, and how we were going to do it. I thought he was insane. How could this even work for this degree plan? I realize now that without having the freedom to do those things, I wouldn’t appreciate the time it took to get here nor would I feel like I really accomplished anything. Do I enjoy the COVA approach? Not Yet. Will I begin to at some point? I fully believe I will.

Quitter Quitter? Quitter No More

Before this starting this current course at Lamar I would’ve definitely said I was on a growth mindset. Why wouldn’t I be?! After just one short week I realize that is 100% not the case. Fixed is all I’ve ever known and it’s a struggle to begin to change that. Doable but a struggle. My main goal for my campus is to implement ePortfolios for all of my students. Seems easy enough now to think about it but a year ago I knew it was going to take some elbow grease and consistency and every time I backed out. There were so many unknowns when it came to starting and that makes me uncomfortable. What would I do if I started and it didn’t work out quite as planned? That wasn’t an option for me. This fear of failure has kept me from moving forward with so many things in life. I know people say that failure leads to success but I’d just rather not fail, so I just stop. I’m learning to stop quitting. Growth mindset is all about learning from these moments when things don’t go quite as planned and growing from the feelings of wanting to quit. I know why I’ve wanted to do everything I’ve tried and I have to remember that the why is the most important part. The rest  comes with commitment. 

The Power of Growth Mindset

Two words…Not yet. Something I have repeated to my students for years. My go to response when they say they just don’t get it. The response of not yet but you will changes their thinking. The change isn’t automatic or quick but as the year progresses their belief of the not yet does as well. I find it easier to push my students in math and struggle with doing the same in science. It’s easy to praise the process and skills in math. Students today are so caught up in the scores they receive and lose focus of the process and end result. They have lost sight of the opportunity for growth that comes with imperfection.

Knowing I need to push myself out of the the fixed mindset that I am ever so comfortable in and into growth makes me anxious. I think allowing myself to see the growth will help with the feeling of failure that tends to come when the outcome is not how I had planned. I’m learning in my years of adulthood to accept feedback with love as the foundation. Not criticism. I always saw it that way and was not open to hearing any of it!

So what’s there to change? Fixed mindset people like to look smart. Looking smart doesn’t allow them to fail at anything challenging. We avoid it. Feedback that isn’t what we want to hear doesn’t mean anything to us “Fixed” people. Success is supposed to be easy. Shifting over to a growth mindset means I need to learn to embrace things that do not come easily. There will be failure and with that comes feedback and criticism. Embrace it. Learn from it.

And that’s a wrap

I’ve preached and preached that I was done with school. I was done writing papers and reading books that were of no real interest at times. Then COVID came rearing its ugly unwanted head into the middle of our lives, the lives of our students, and the jobs that we so preciously love. What was I supposed to do in a virtual classroom with a bundle of 9 year olds? Technology wasn’t anything I had taken serious enough to be able to feel successful at this new task we were facing.

We mustered our way through virtual learning and started school face to face. I thought I was done with technology and couldn’t possibly think of a better thing to move to the back burner. My kids came bright eyed in August and I felt a change. I could tell they needed access to the outside world and the opportunity to make connections.

Someone mentioned Lamar and their technology programs. That someone was a fellow teacher who I secretly envied. Her implementation of technology in her 2nd grade classroom blew me away. She got it. She understood what their needs were and how to provide that for them.

These first two courses reignited a fire I had sworn off for eternity. I was allowed to be creative and not held to such standards that prevented this. I’ve been allowed to focus on what my students and district need as opposed to just satisfying a professor. Excited cannot explain how I feel knowing that this time next year I will have almost a full year of ePortfolio implementation under my belt. Without the merging of content that both of these courses provided, I do not believe that I would have saw the connection between the need for technological changes in our district and knowing I could change that. I’ve been provided the tools to use and now I just have to put them to work. One course at a time.

Applying Educational Technology: Contribution to My Learning 5303

Applying Educational Technology  in Lamar University’s Digital Learning and Leading course, was my first of two courses that started this journey. The end goal was to create an ePortfolio to reflect, share, and grow through using my voice. Upon beginning this course Dr. Harapnuik provided a slew of ePortfolios from previous students to use as inspiration.One of the first things I noticed looking at some of the sites was just how creative and unique each of them were. I was given freedom to choose which platform to build from and what it would look like and not much more. I’m not a fan of freedom. I need to know all the in’s and out’s of the expectations and what I’m being graded on specifically. This granting of freedom, I would later learn, would be the thorn in my side.

That pain in my side would be lessened by the most amazing group members for this course. My learning community included Michelle Richey, Maria Rodman, Lindsay Hoerig, Avery Nihill, Lindsey Wallace, Aliscia Drummond, Robin Ballard and myself.We met via zoom every Tuesday evening after the scheduled 5303 course meeting. During our zoom meetings we would share screens and show our ever emerging ePortfolios. Doing this allowed each of us to get ideas and see how others were making their ideas flow and connect on their blogs. Outside of our weekly zoom meetings, we utilized the chatting feature in Group Me pretty much all hours of the day. This chatting feature was useful to share references, videos on tweaking the blogs or setting up and ideas for content. We used our ePortfolios as a landing page for our Disruptive Education course. My ePortfolio houses my Innovation Proposal, Literature Review and my Implementation Outline for my Innovation Project. I was initially apprehensive about taking two courses at a time for my first bit at a Master’s Program but this course was a perfect pairing for the EDLD 5305. 

I’ve learned that I need this landing page to help reflect on my journey. Before creating this ePortfolio I would often dig through digital folders and spend hours hunting for specific thoughts most times coming up empty handed. I hated the process and the messiness. My ePortfolio has taught me to be patient as one liners evolved into paragraphs and eventually scrolly worthy blog posts. The end result does not always have to be known to begin. I’ve learned that my ePortfolio will never be complete and that has to be ok with me. 

I struggled with connecting my ePortfolio to making changes in our world of education. My site is a way to communicate my hopes, desires and dreams for education. It’s something I’m proud of today and will continue to grow with.

Disruptive Innovation: Contribution to Learning 5305

48/50

Disruptive Innovation in Education, or EDLD 5305 in Lamar University’s Digital Learning and Leading course, was my first of two courses that started this journey. The end goal was to start to see technology as a tool for learning that when used correctly can change our education system. Dr. Harapnuik set forth the challenge to leave this program feeling like and knowing we could make waves. Waves of changes. The start of this program was to determine a challenge in our district, building, or classroom that could be addressed with the implementation of technology. My proposal was to introduce my fellow teachers to ePortfolios and have them implemented into all academic areas in August 2021. This would mean that my students would have the opportunity to take ownership of their learning, make connections to real world issues and prepare for higher education. With my proposal submitted and accepted, the real work would begin with having this plan backed by research. Research is not my strong suit. I struggled with not finding the research that I wanted to read. Not that it wasn’t interesting, but more so it wasn’t saying what I wanted it to say. I wanted this to be easier than it was turning out to be. This was the turning point for me in this course. This moment is when I realized that this journey was not going to be like undergrad school. I had to do some changing, start to finish in less than 8 weeks. 

Change would be possible in this course without the ladies in my learning community that were there to constantly encourage the hard transitions and cheer on the small successes. Michelle Richey, Maria Rodman, Lindsay Hoerig, Avery Nihill, Lindsey Wallace, Aliscia Drummond and Robin Ballard are the foundation I needed to set off on the right track.  The eight of us met at least once a week via zoom and chatted on Group Me all hours of the day. Our Zoom conferences were full of tweaking ideas and offering assistance. With this being our first course at Lamar, we took this time to make sure the expectations and assignments were clear for all of us. We all learn at such a different pace, so it was crucial that the eight of us remained helpful. It was during this time that grace was offered during the hard times, and critiques were met with justification. Our Google Slide Deck was a landing spot for everything we were working on. This was probably the best part of our relationship thus far. Our work was just clicks away and it made it so easy accessible for each of us to reach out to one another and offer help or ideas. Building these relationships helped hold me accountable during a time when I thought I had hit my limit. There’s always something a classroom with an educator cannot teach you…and for this course that was building relationships with a group of strong willed and very determined women. 

I know there are changes to be made in our education system. I now know I am capable of starting those changes and setting examples for my district. However small those changes may be to start, I know they are needed and I know they are coming and it starts with my Innovation Project. 

Innovator WannaBe?

Sounds a bit harsh but…..sometimes the truth stings. Innovation is what we strive for…It’s like trying to find the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Just about the time you think you’ve made it, it changes and keeps you moving. Education is that same pot of gold. Right about when I feel like I’ve found my rhythm and have grown confident it what I’m doing, it all changes. Sometimes it’s the curriculum, or administration change, or a pandemic. You know, all the normal things! A short article written by Leslie Nelson reminded me that innovative learning needs to be real and engaging in order to make it meaningful.

Are you really an innovative educator?

Are you creating a learning environment where your students work is meaningful and authentic? If not, why not?