A Perpetual Learning Journey
When I started the Digital Learning and Leading program in the fall of 2017 I had been teaching for 22 years and had come to a crossroads in my life. The zeal that I once felt for teaching had started to fade and I knew I had to either switch gears professionally or begin working toward another goal as an educator. I had been attending technology conferences and edcamps regularly and seemed to always experience a surge of encouragement and renewed excitement as I learned how technology and innovative learning could bring about the necessary changes needed for a 21st century public education. In fact, it was at one of those conferences that I spoke to a representative from Lamar University and decided to investigate the Masters of Education programs they had to offer. Although I originally decided on the Education Technology Leadership program, after reading the DLL course descriptions, I knew it was the best fit for me. And the rest, as they say, is history.
I was first introduced to some of my fellow DLL classmates in 5302 where we learned the importance of adopting a growth mindset. We discovered that we would be building an online portfolio in 5303 to house our future course work. This is when we learned that we would need to rely on the collective support of the group to help offset the panic we were all experiencing. I had some pretty amazing discussions that helped alleviate some of the anxiety and helped me to realize that we would all be in this thing together.
My greatest highs in the DLL program came each time I created a new page for my website. I absolutely relished in the creation process of choosing backgrounds, images, fonts and styles that I felt best reflected and added to the meaning behind each assignment. I would have never anticipated getting so much enjoyment from doing something that I found so uncomfortable in the beginning, but I can honestly say that I have found a new hobby in designing digital spaces.
My low came during week three of 5316 as I learned ALL about copyright law. I suppose this is an unequivocal sign that I was never meant to be a lawyer. The copyright reading list was the antitheses of website design. My bad attitude about the whole thing led to a myriad of negativity and a brief departure from a growth mindset on my part. It is interesting, however, that I am known as a proponent for digital citizenship in my district and the knowledge I gained during 5316 has proven useful on more than one occasion. I now realize that learning doesn't always have to be joyful, but I will need to work on my mindset and attitude during those times when I am not exactly feeling the joy.
Click to take a look at my journey through the DLL program.
At first glance, it would appear that I don't have a lot to show for my work in the DLL program. My innovation project was a bust and a second attempt would have to wait a year while I got to know my new district and began building relationships with the teachers. However, upon closer inspection, progress was made. I may not have ended up with a product, but the learning that occurred during readings, reflections, research, discussion posts and creating my innovation project will be there when the time is right for blended learning, round two.
I can point to many places in my journey where I lost sight of my innovation plan goal and became caught up in the day to day operations that dominate a typical school day. My greatest disappointment is that I allowed these distractions to interfere with my goal to continue writing regular blog posts. I have lists of ideas just waiting to be written, but have yet to take the time to follow through with writing and posting. Participating in the DLL program has made me realize that my greatest learning connections occur as I organize and articulate my thoughts when I write. So, my plan is to set a new goal to up my blogging game and start chipping away at some of those lists of topics.
One important lesson learned throughout this process is to refrain from making the assumption that all teachers have the same attitude about learning new things. Many times the negative voices tend to be the loudest, and it's very easy to categorize all teachers by the most outspoken. However, a few participants in my blended learning pilot group, explained that most teachers just need a little direction and support as they are learning something new. This really hit home with me and has changed my perspective about how I will approach future professional development and just-in-time coaching next year.
I am happy to have finished the DLL Program and will spend the next few weeks simply enjoying the carefree feeling of NO ASSIGNMENTS looming over my head. Other than that, I am excited to have time to build out a new section of my website. The innovative technology resource section of my website will allow me to easily share ideas and resources with teachers as I work with them next year. I plan to also include lesson examples that incorporate COVA and CSLE concepts as well as provide opportunities for students to practice the 4 C's, communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity.
I can’t claim to know what the future holds, but I do have an idea about which direction I will be traveling. I am content in my new district and even though we have a long road ahead to get us where we need to be, I feel confident that the leaders are in place to guide us in the right direction. I want to be a source of inspiration and I want my passion for deeper learning to carry over into everything I do. I want teachers to realize that confidence comes with making learning a priority in their lives. I plan to model this by making my own learning transparent every chance I get and by creating bite-size learning experiences that will trickle down from teachers to students.
Photo references listed in order of appearance: