The most important learning process that I have learned while working on my innovation project is the ability to fail forward. Secondly, adapting Dweck’s (2008) Growth Mindset has been extremely rewarding and I have seen a paradigm shift in the way that I teach, the way that I learn, and the way that I express myself. I use this in my daily life. When faced with deadlines, illnesses, teenage drama, and even fishing tournaments, I have to remind myself that I am not there YET. It is ok to be wrong, just turn that into a positive learning experience for everyone involved. Teach our students how to look at the big picture and start with the end in mind. Encourage creativity and ownership in projects without losing sight of the big picture. Finally, I want to encourage my students to become life-long learners and share their excitement when they learn something new.
Throughout most of this DLL program, I have been blessed to be a part of a great group of people in my life. I found out that I am not the only person over fifty who decided to start graduate school. I also found out that being a fishing team advisor is extremely time-consuming, but definitely worth the experience. Watching the enthusiasm of my anglers as they tell me about their new equipment or fishing techniques really hit hard when reflecting on how we learn. If a student is interested in the subject, they will find a way to learn. I have been able to offer some good advice to my students this year based on what we have learned in this program. I have pushed them to step out of their comfort zone and keep pushing forward.
After reflecting on my innovation plan over the past few months, I am encouraged that most of my project will be successful. I am already using blended learning in my classroom, but not to its full potential. I would like to create personal videos, have students submit discussions through Blackboard, and offer more electives for our students. Through this program, I have stepped out of my comfort zone and tried various methods of presentation media. I am ready to have some time to truly work on my skills that I have learned.
My district has purchased Blackboard and it is in its first phase of roll out – mainly just communication throughout the district via announcements. Although it is nearing the end of the school year, I would still like to have my students access Blackboard. Currently, the director of technology is researching the most efficient and cost-effective method for live web conferences.
I think the biggest lesson that I learned throughout this program is to win over the influencers through Patterson’s (2017)) method. Secondly, I’ve changed my mindset to a growth mindset and have shifted the way that I interact with my students. Instead of telling them no, you’ve done this wrong, I now say you are almost there, you can do it, WE are not there yet. I have seen the change in confidence of struggling students by using the not there YET method. I have also learned to attempt the not there YET method with my administration. I have struggled with a few who just don’t understand this method, but I keep telling myself that WE as a district are not there YET.
One of my original plans has to be modified due to a teacher resigning last week. He was one of the people on my “team” that I could count on to incorporate blended learning and Blackboard into our classrooms. On a positive note, our entire technology department at administration attended TCEA in February and now they are excited about the blended learning approach and are willing to try new ideas. And, they all know that I’m the go-to person to try these new innovative practices.
I think that my innovation has too many pieces. I should have started small. That was a hard lesson to learn. The daily whirlwind just never slows down, but I am trying to remain positive and just work with what I know works best. I am also trying to stay out of the negativity and add positivity when I can. Our district has implemented a new program called The Fundamental 5 for quality instruction in the classroom. The focus for the month of March is to recognize and reinforce. I would be in panic mode with a new initiative this late in the game, but since I have already incorporated that in my classroom this month will be easy. My hope is that the COVA approach will be introduced to our faculty during next school year’s in-service meetings. I think that would change the culture of our campus tremendously.
I plan to promote my innovation plan and the things that we have learned throughout our entire DLL program by volunteering (yes, giving of time, but hoping to influence a few people along the way) my time this summer to attend trainings and conduct professional development with the technology department. My superintendent wants some of my students to create one-minute videos to promote our departments in the high school. We just don’t have the most up-to-date technology to pull it off quickly, but I think I can influence him to purchase the equipment that is needed. I think that he has a clear vision of how to promote our community and reach out to the parents to get our students more involved in learning and growing and having FUN. That was one of my goals with my plan, to create significant learning environments that are engaging and FUN.
I have also learned that there will always be roadblocks and we just have to stick together and find new ways to overcome obstacles. I am a better listener now at school because I am trying to find the WHY with my students and my co-workers. It is strange how some of my co-workers have reacted to my reason for being in grad school. Our district doesn’t offer a pay raise for a Master’s Degree. But, if we want to decrease turnover rate, increase student learning, and recruit quality teachers, we need to offer a pay raise for a Master’s Degree. Yes, I have expressed this concern to my principal, my superintendent, school board members, and parents. Now I have the research and the knowledge to help support and guide a few changes that are desperately needed in my district. This class has given me the confidence to do just that!
My next innovation project will focus on what we have learned. How do we influence others? How can we capture hearts? Learning by design, having the end in mind then working backwards. Remembering that people learn differently and try to hit the masses based on where we are and where we are going. Failing forward, living in the whirlwind, shifting gears, measuring outcomes, start small and be willing to make changes along the way. Accepting other people’s points of view and always be a life-long learner. Keep reading and learning. Share knowledge and kind words of encouragement along the way. Reach out to other students in this program and ask for input and offer suggestions. These are just a few of the strategies that I will incorporate in my next innovation project. Just take it one student at a time, one day at a time, and one project at a time. What’s next for me? Creating a DLL program in my district for student and faculty use. What is the first step? Have a conversation with the director of technology explaining the learning network that is provided through the DLL program at Lamar. Will it work for our district? Can we utilize the professional development opportunities that the Lamar DLL program offers? I will gather information, establish communication between district administrators and Lamar DLL professors, and get ready to introduce COVA, CSLE, and distance learning throughout the district.
While reflecting on my Innovation Plan, I came across this rough draft outline that was created many months ago. I was very pleased to see how far my plan has evolved.
Blended Learning in Graphics Design and Illustration Course (grades 10-12)
- Preparation and Planning
- Research new content not previously taught (create Kahoot.it and quizizz for pre and post-assessment) **Done, but always a work in progress.
- Find interactive content to support curriculum (shift from lesson-driven assignments to project-driven assignments allowing students to work at their own pace)**Ongoing, there is always something new to find
- Find assessment tools to measure student progress on skills already mastered in Adobe PhotoShop CC, Dreamweaver CC, Premier Pro CC, and Microsoft PowerPoint**Done, found out most of these assessments are NOT free. Now I need to research the free route.
- Complete full install of Adobe CC in computer lab and COW Cart**Done, but had to completely uninstall Adobe CC on the COW Cart, software too labor-intensive for laptops.
- Visit Lufkin High School to explore their Blended Learning Model**Did not do, but on my bucket list for next year. I need more contacts at the school to find out where I can go from this point forward.
- Propose Blackboard to Technology Department (funding issues, network issues, etc.)**Done, purchased and on phase one of the roll-out.
- Have students create a few “how-to” videos with GoPro – flipped learning**Partially done, now using iPadcaster to create videos, but still have hopes with using GoPro to shoot videos.
- Reward system for students to develop higher level thinking skills (escape room type situation in lab next door)**Complete failure due to funding, but the an escape room has recently opened in our community.
- Document Progress
- Pictures, videos, blogs **Done, mostly blogs. I need to create more of my own videos.
- Share lessons with co-workers and administration (allows for district professional development)**Done – probably overdone by now. Work with Lamar’s community learning program (Dr. H.).
- Ask for feedback from students, co-workers, and administration **Ongoing and developing, I think it will always be a reflective stage.
- Measure student growth in real time **Done, through online quizzes and watching daily progress. I now have my students walk me through their design process while I’m grading their projects. It helps me to better understand what works, what doesn’t, and what’s next.
- Wish List
- Change the way students view school **Ongoing, I have seen MANY growth opportunities in my classes. Students are developing the COVA approach in their learning.
- Make school fun**Done, show me something that you would like to work on, praise and reward success, offer encouragement. Sometimes the only reward a student needs is the freedom to pick up a camera and shoot pictures of a baseball tournament instead of working in the classroom.
- Learn at an exponential rate – grow ***Done, the DLL program pushed me to my limits. Never stop learning.
- Learn from students **Ongoing, I ask the students to teach me something new each day. Now if I could just organize everyone’s suggestions.
- Ignite a fire in the district and community **Done, district is onboard. Currently working on producing videos to share with the community about our schools.
- Provide after school “lab” time **Not going to happen. Too many struggling students must ride the bus and can’t stay after school. Plus we have a new energy efficient system and the A/C is turned off at 4:00 pm.
- Students leave my class with knowledge and a desire for learning***Ongoing
Dweck, Carol S., (2008) Mindset: the new psychology of success New York: Ballantine Books.
Patterson, K., Grenny, J., Maxfield, D., (2017) Influencer: the power to change anything. Highbridge, 1st edition.