The End of My Digital Leading and Learning Journey!

The reason that I chose the Digital Learning and Leading program was because I felt like I would be able to learn a lot from it. Other program descriptions didn’t draw me in like this one did. I have been teaching for a long time, in a variety of schools, with many types of students, focusing on all subject areas. I have had a lot of experience with curriculum and instruction, and I know that I would NEVER want my Master’s in administration. NO thank you! I love the students and the teachers, but have had my share of parents who make me steer clear of anything involving them directly. So what was left? I have always been fairly tech savvy, but have had trouble keeping up in recent years. A program where I was exposed to innovative strategies was just what I needed.

My favorite part of the program has been learning about Significant Learning Environments and the COVA approach and reading A New Culture of Learning. I feel like the ideas presented not only align with my beliefs, but also validate and affirm the things that I’ve been trying to do as an instructional coach. There’s a part of me that wants to go back into the classroom just to work on this one aspect of my learning in this program. I feel like it would be easier to achieve in my own classroom, rather than helping other teachers to create it in theirs. Maybe one day….

Creating an online/blended class in Schoology was another powerful part of the program. It gave me a place and a structure for my ideas of helping teachers learn about blended learning, and linked directly to my innovation plan.

Along with Schoology, I was exposed to a variety of technology throughout the program. I learned about Piktochart, emaze, Kizoa, Windows Movie Maker, Adobe Spark among others. This experience and introduction to online resources has taken away any fear I may once have had about trying new things. Technology is so amazing, and it never hurts to jump in and give something a shot!

One thing that many graduate school students dread is literature reviews. I now know why. It takes a long time and a lot of work to dive into the literature about what others have done! However, I felt like I learned a lot from so much reading about blended learning, and I know that what I wrote in those literature reviews will be useful to me in the future.

This program was the perfect one for me, and I couldn’t be more excited to be finishing up!

Reflecting on COVA and CSLE

The Past

You know how sometimes, something presents itself to you, and you think, “Wow! This is exactly what I was looking for!” or “This matches up exactly with what I think!”

This program has done that for me. The COVA approach puts into words the ideas I’ve always had about how people learn. My thoughts were never clear or coherent, but after reading about and participating in a program that truly matches my learning philosophy, I feel that my ideas have come together, been affirmed, and with practice, will be something that I know how to advocate for.

I also believe in the CSLE ideas. They go hand-in-hand with COVA. Together they fit with the constructivist approach to learning. An environment where students are guided and encouraged to own their learning allows them to construct meaning and deep understanding.

It’s hard to say when I realized that I had choice and voice in this program. I guess it was around the third class, when I was frustrated that I didn’t have enough information to do my assignments. Professors told us to keep going, to keep working, to do what we felt was best. I didn’t like that at first. I wanted specific, clear expectations. As I completed one assignment and then another, I began to realize that it was possible. I had what it took to choose the direction of my learning.

I remembered back to the time when I was trying to decide what master’s program I wanted to begin. As I read all of the choices, the DLL program really stood out to me because of its differences from others I had seen. I wanted something that would challenge me, that I could learn from, and was not just ‘doing school’ for the sake of doing school. This program definitely did that! Instead of reading textbooks, taking tests, and writing papers to appease a professor, I read relevant books and articles, discussed ideas with my peers, wrote some papers as part of the research for my innovation project, and created an eportfolio. I enjoyed reading what others were working on and how they were able to apply the same ideas and concepts to their own jobs and innovation plans.

The Future

My goal is to ‘spread’ the COVA approach to the teachers that I work with. As an elementary instructional coach, I feel that I might have more opportunities for this than some others in the course. Guiding teachers to implement new ideas is basically what I do for a living! However, it is such a far stretch from what most teachers at my school are currently doing, that it won’t be that easy. Teachers have so much going on in their classrooms, and I have to be careful to approach this gently and slowly to encourage them to take small steps toward implementation. I have one team of teachers that is really interested in starting something along these lines, so I will begin working with them. Hopefully we will find some small changes that will have strong enough effects that other teachers won’t be able to say no!