In 5th grade, I finished the Little House on the Prairie series, and I remember feeling conflicted about my sadness. That was the first time I experienced the heartbreak of a literary goodbye. My teacher at the time encouraged me with the reminder that there were still so many good books to read, and that finishing Little House helped me become a better reader for them.
I experienced a similar heartbreak when I graduated from college in 1997. I muddled through weeks of not knowing who I was if I wasn’t a student. I wish I had remembered my 5th grade teacher’s advice from a decade prior, because now I see that it applies: everything I learned helped me to become a better learner.
In both heartbreaks, my solution was the same…keep reading. To quote Dr. Harapnuik, “There has never been a better time to be a learner.” I am at the end of the road for my Master’s degree, and am feeling a type of heartbreak, but I see that I am in a better position to continue in my journey because of how I have learned to see myself as a learner.
As I think about that journey ahead, I’m not sure what it will look like. I’m not sure if there is even a road! But I know how to ask the questions to get me to where I’m going. I know how to find the right people along the way. I’m not afraid to fail, and excited about all there is to learn.
I would never have thought this kind of synthesis would come out of this program. But more than digital learning, the ADL program has taught me to be prepared for an education future that doesn’t exist. I am better positioned now to be a contributor of learning for my students or anyone else that is willing to create with me a road that no one has yet taken.
This program has clarified pieces of visions I’ve had for a while, and given me a map on how to reach goals for my students, my school, and my district. I now have the language and leverage to conduct better conversations and execute plans that I know will help our students become the digital learners and leaders that THEY need to be for a future we can’t even yet imagine.
Q: What has worked for you?
A: What truly does work is the COVA framework. This final discussion post and synthesis process of our entire learning is proof of that. I’ve been putting together this last piece for my ePortfolio, and as I reflect back on the choices I’ve made in this entire program, my voice is even now being shaped as in this authentic process I am realizing all I have done.
Q: What can you improve upon?
A: Now that I have worked through a two year loop in my LC, I know that I can always plan better. Continual experience will recursively aid in better planning.
Q: What lessons have you learned?
A: I have learned so much… but the most important lesson is that I don’t have to know it all, that the whole point is THIS. That I will always be learning. The strengths I gain along the way will make my journey moving forward easier, and weaknesses will remain my teacher.
But also, I’ve learned the importance of collaboration and finding “my” people.
Q: Where are you looking to anticipate change?
A: I am asking next year to take over the GT work on our campus. I theorize that if I work with a smaller cohort, our work has a greater possibility of success.
Q: What is the diversity measure of your network?
A: In one way, the level of intellectual diversity is limited as I am still looking for specific stakeholders that are “disruptive ready”. I understand Torres’s point here is that great leaders are able to work and experience success with a diverse set of people, which in some ways I don’t see as relevant in initiatives such as mine. ALL are welcome, and I do believe that as far as race and culture is concerned, my personal diversity measure is strong.
Q: Are you courageous enough to abandon the past?
A: Yes! Let’s do it. I’m so ready to apply the gas, but am not in that clutch position. YET.
I remember reading through the program map on Dr. H’s ePortfolio when I started my first course, 5303. I cobbled together each assignment on Google Sites and didn’t even really understand the titles of the other courses that lay ahead of me. Now, looking at that list of familiar topics is astounding.
I decided to pursue this degree plan because it seemed, in 2020, that we desperately needed help on how best to teach in an online environment. I learned so much more than I could have imagined. Learning theory, inquisitiveness, and self-directed learning I now see as obvious foundations to any education initiative. Understanding the importance of having an organizational change strategy and being prepared with quality instructional design are absolutely necessary when talking about online and blended learning, especially when doing so effectively brings change to an organization. Our innovation plans will only happen if we work within our professional learning networks initiating crucial conversations as we create new cultures of learning in significant environments that are fostered through the use of ePortfolios.
Somehow, one step at a time, with a cohort I’m honored to be a part of, we did it. We constructed all of that knowledge. On this side of the process, it’s almost more astounding to see how it all actively fits together. Every single thing I learned fit into my personal practice, and intuitively led me to where I needed to go next with my innovation plan. The instructional design of THIS curriculum was well thought out, if only visible upon completion.
And upon completion, the learning is visible here. THIS construction serves as the ultimate Bloom’s example of higher order thinking. Here we have created, evaluated, and are now analyzing. It’s the ultimate in applying digital learning.
In the digital environment of this course, I have been in a unique position to reap all possible rewards. Through most of my learning journey in the ADL program, I have worked with Allison Palmer, Pedro Beltran, and Brianna Rodriguez. We discovered what each of our strengths are, and learned to work together leveraging those strengths. My strength is writing, so I took the lead in most of our drafting. The publication that Allison submitted was a piece focusing on ePortfolios as assessment that we edited for her. Pedro and Brianna’s was similar, with a focus on blended learning. As ePortfolios fits under the umbrella of blended learning, this wasn’t a stretch for us as a team of four to edit and collaborate.
At the same time, I had been working through a draft of another piece that included ideas I’ve been playing around with for a while during this program. After formalizing that draft, I shared it with Jane Ngyuen and Tamara Sanford – two colleagues that I met in my very first DLL course in October of 2020. To have the opportunity to look at how far we have all come since that time was a gift. I enjoyed reading their work and collaborating with them again during the writing portion of this course.
For the podcast, I again played around with old and new. My previous work with Allison, Pedro, and Brianna was too good not to include in my ePortfolio, as it includes a conversation with Dr. Harapnuik.
This Spring as I encountered the directives for the podcast anew, I considered how I might conduct one in my own learning environment. I invited 4 key stakeholders in my district to participate in a conversation on our gifted and talented program in this district and how technology effects that program. More than a quality product, it was a strategic move for continuing to invite my colleagues to look at how we are providing all learners in our district with choice, ownership, and voice in an authentic way.