I’m a kindergarten teacher so my visual representation of my journey would of course include emoji’s. These emoji’s show how I was feeling throughout the process or the different hats I was wearing throughout my journey. Enjoy!
When I first began this journey, I really didn’t know what to expect. I had been out of school for about 20 years, and a lot has changed since then, especially with technology. I didn’t get my first cell phone until I was a teacher. We used pay phones back then to keep in touch. My laptop that I got my last year of college was used only as a word processor, as internet connections weren’t even a thing yet. Fast forward 20 years where my first class was Concepts of Educational Technology. This is where I first encountered the COVA approach, I just didn’t know it yet. COVA stands for choice, ownership, voice, and authentic assignments. This means that we were going to be deciding what our focus was going to be throughout the program, what projects we were interested in, and what format to present our work in. I was immediately overwhelmed with the assignments, the structure, the posting on discussion boards. I have never done a class online, so there was that too. I wasn’t sure if I had made the right choice, and several times I just wanted to throw in the towel and give up before I invested too much money to turn back. Somehow, I made it through the course, feeling like I was in a fog the entire time. When I turned in the assignments, I had no idea if I was even on the right track, whether I had even addressed the assignments. I wasn’t using the rubrics that were provided to help facilitate my learning. Yet.
The next part of my journey was the Portfolio course. This couldn’t have come at a better time for me. It was a chance to decompress from the previous course, and learn to manage all my upset from not knowing what I was doing. I was given the opportunity to upload all my work from the previous course, and given 5 weeks to get myself back together. This was a much needed time for me in my journey. By not having any pressing assignments for 5 weeks, except to organize myself and create my portfolio, I had the opportunity to explore the format of the previous course more thoroughly and discovered many key things that would help me in the future, such as the rubrics.
By my third course, Disruptive Innovation in Education, I was beginning to feel much more comfortable with the format of the online course. It was in this course that I began to feel the demands of time. This class had us reading the entire book Disrupting Class. That was a lot more higher level reading than I had done in a very long time. It was a challenge to keep up with. I did enjoy coming to my idea for “Appy Hour” during this time. I was also pretty overwhelmed with the literature review process. I think that is where being out of school for so long became a huge disadvantage. Again, I began to feel like I was lost and drowning, spending my entire weekends just trying to catch up. This was probably the class that I found the most challenging as most of the content was a bit more business based and I wasn’t really good at making those connections. This class also challenged me in that it went against what I had always done, which was go with the flow and not make waves.
After Christmas break that first year, I felt refreshed and renewed. I took time to read ahead over the break so I didn’t feel like I was always running to catch up. The first course of the Spring was Leading Organizational Change. I had no idea what I was getting into with this course. I was still struggling to feel like I was on the same page with my professor, still needing those clear boundaries and instructions. This course was not going to be comfortable for me at all. I was taking my innovation plan, and fleshing it out in all these different formats. I had to come up with my “why” in a time that I could barely tell you what I was supposed to be doing. I wasn’t quite as low as I was after the first class, but I was still struggling to feel like I was a productive member of the class. It was probably in this class that I realized that I was going to have to trust in my instincts and do what felt right for me. There weren’t going to be any examples of what my projects were supposed to look like. I was going to have to do my best and be at peace with the results. I feel like this is when my stubbornness kicked in and I just put my head down and started working nonstop.
By the second class of the Spring, Creating Significant Learning Environments, I was starting to hit my stride a bit. Again, this class couldn’t have come at a better time. I really enjoyed all the looking at learning that we did in this class, and the Carol Dweck Mindset theories were my favorite. I have always used some of her strategies with my own children and it was nice to have a background on why it was good. I was still struggling with working on my innovation plan that was included in this course, but I was beginning to connect all the pieces in my mind so it was making more sense. I was beginning to understand the COVA approach, although I still didn’t know it’s name. I was telling anyone around me how much I was enjoying my program and having the freedom to control what I was doing. We had had several “Appy Hour” sessions at this point so I had some really good information to begin building out my idea and changing things that weren’t working.
The final class of the Spring was Digital Learning in Global and Local Contexts. This was a good class for me to practice my ability to research and look through information to find what was applicable to what I was doing. This was the point where I started to really grow and change my innovation plan based on research and things that I was reading. It wasn’t simply about what worked and didn’t anymore. I had articles and readings to back up what I wanted to do and why I wanted to do it. This was also the time that I was introduced to Nancy Duarte’s “Resonate”. I really enjoyed reading her work on how to present things. I still find myself referring to her work when creating presentations both for Lamar and my everyday life. That was a pretty profound piece of learning for me.
After a short break, I entered in to my first and only Summer sessions. I knew these were going to be less stressful just because of the fact that I wasn’t working. I did have a second foot surgery for the year early on but it really made it easier because I had a reason to focus on my work and stay at home. This was the course Assessing Digital Learning and Instruction. Or as I referred to it as the measurement course. I wish this course had fallen during the school year so I could have implemented the measuring right away. The fact that I couldn’t made it a bit harder when I went back in the fall. I really enjoyed the book How to Measure Anything and found the reading fascinating. Of course, I again was not working so had more time to sit around and read. It was during this course that I began to change the focus of “Appy Hour” a little more and to find ways to show that people were changing their practices because of their attendance. Coming up with a measurement strategy was quite challenging, I am not going to lie. I have never been much of a math person, so figuring out the logistics and the math to the “Appy Hour” measurement was not my favorite part. I do know the value in measurement now, so that is a plus.
The next course was a sharp 180 degrees from all my other courses so far at Lamar. It was the course on Digital Citizenship. I probably learned the most real world information in this course, especially as a parent of a teen and a pre-teen. We were given very specific assignments and very easy to follow directions. I found it very easy to get ahead in this class, both because of summer break and because it was very much about following directions and completing very specific assignments. I found this to be a nice little break from the COVA approach, with all of us working on basically the same assignments. At the same time, I really feel like the information that I got from this course might have. been the most relevant to my life as a parent. Knowing about all the different parts of digital citizenship and being aware of all the components is a very powerful tool. I enjoyed all of the reading in this course, although it was a pretty heavy load, and I plan on going back and rereading these books again to get more information. I feel like this is where I kind of hit my feeling of being in the “home stretch”. I began to feel like nothing could really stop me at this point, as I was so close to finishing my degree.
My first course of the second fall semester was Resources in the Digital Environment. This was one of my favorite courses because it forced me way outside of my comfort zone in publishing a piece of my work (or at least trying). My work was not published but I am still exploring other places to send it out to who might. This was also the course that I began to see a change in myself as a digital educator, which was apparent in my work and how I was able to use different tools with ease a year after almost having a meltdown in my first class. I began to feel more confident in what I was saying and doing, like a real Master’s candidate should. I didn’t find making the connection back to my innovation plan at all hard in this course, which might have been the first time that I was able to put things together pretty easily.
My next course was the Instructional Design in Online Learning. This was another favorite course for me, as I have always been very interested in online learning. The only way I would ever teach older kids would be through this format I think. I have had some experience with Schoology learning management system with my kids so it was an interesting experience for me to look at it more from the instructors side than the student’s side. This was also a class where my feeling of accomplishment took a pretty big hit when no one in my building signed up for my online “Appy Hour” course at it’s completion. I wished I was a tech liaison at this point, that I could offer some sort of real incentive. Jean’s passes don’t just seem to be cutting it anymore, even though wearing jeans any other day of the week than Friday seems to always have been an good starting point. I really feel more in tune with what it takes to create an online course, and tried to use the COVA approach throughout my course.
The last course of the Fall was the most anticipated course for me. It was on Selected Topics, but our instructors choose Professional Development as our focus. Because my innovation plan dealt with professional development, it made sense that I would find this very useful. This was where I decided to revamp “Appy Hour” again (if I had another one that is) and make it less sit and get and more move and do. I think that although we tried not to, we still did most of the talking and sharing at our events. It was in this class that I realized the importance of changing that. It was also in this course that I was able to get my administrators attention with all of the work that I have been doing. I choose a current PD session that my school already did to change, and presented my suggestions for changes to my administration. I am happy to say that they are supposed to implement several of the changes in the next school year. I felt recharged again, and began to feel like people were beginning to take me seriously. After a career of being looked over for every job promotion that I went for, that felt pretty good. Hopefully my luck can carry over and I will soon be able to land a more leadership position.
My final class was this Capstone course. Honestly, I was looking forward to this because I am a big believer in reflection. When I heard that we would be doing a great deal of reflection, I was so excited. I find that reflection is what helps me make sense of the world around me. It helps me become a better teacher, mother, wife, and friend. I think that this program has done so much more for me than given me a degree. I think that I have become much more confident in my beliefs, and more confident in my abilities. I now know that I have to change peoples hearts and their minds will follow. I know that I can do anything I set my mind to, no matter how old I am or how much I feel like the world around me is falling apart. I am changed forever by this program. I am forever changed by the professors that I have had, and the experiences that I have had. I have new friends from different places and job titles than me. I have people who are respected in their field who believe in me and see me for who I am. I feel very blessed to have been in the first class to finish the DLL program. The next part of my journey is to continue to pursue a leadership position. What I found out through this process is that I love to help teachers find out ways to leverage technology in their classrooms. I’m not sure what that will look like, a tech position or some sort of teaching position, but I am looking forward to finding out.
Books I enjoyed in my DLL program
- Disrupting class: How disruptive innovation will change the way the world learns by Clayton Christensen
- Influencer: The new science of leading change by Joseph Grenney (not an easy read)
- A Failure of Nerve: Leadership in the age of the quick fix by Edwin Friedman (this was deep)
- Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck
- Understanding By Design by Wiggins and McTighe
- Resonate by Nancy Duarte (http://www.duarte.com/book/resonate-legacy/)
- How to Measure Anything: Finding the Value of Intangibles in Business by Douglas Hubbard
- Bullying beyond the schoolyard: Preventing and responding to cyberbullying by Hinduja and Patchin
- Digital Citizenship in Schools by Mike Ribble
- Teaching in a Digital Age: Guideline for Designing Teaching and Learning by T. Bates (Retrieved from https://opentextbc.ca/teachinginadigitalage/)
- Crucial Conversations by Kerry Patterson