A journey that has taught me so much

Let’s be honest, I looked at Lamar University’s Online Masters Program for Digital Learning and Leading because of the brevity of the program and the cost was very affordable. I thought that a gift had been dropped in my lap. A short program about computers that I could finish in under 2 years, Sign Me Up! I found out very quickly that I was not Kansas any more Toto. I had no idea that the next 18-24 months would rework my educational philosophy to the core.

When I started this journey of developing an innovation plan that I would improve, change, and innovate my classroom and college, I wasn’t sure where to start. I was reading my learning philosophy and just in the past year since writing it I can see how much has changed.

To be honest, when I started this journey I thought this would teach me a lot of technical skills and advancements that I could wow my fellow coworkers with, but I soon learned that this would change the way I look at education and the classroom forever.

From day one I knew this was not what I thought it was. I was having to examine how I teach and even develop an E-portfolio, whatever that is? I went through 5 courses not understanding what I was doing, as far as the big picture was concerned. If you look at my Big Hairy Audacious Goal from EDLD 5313.

I had to ask myself a lot of questions throughout this process of developing an innovation plan. What in the world am I doing? How can I do that? Probably the most significant question I asked is, How can I create a significant learning environment by utilizing the think, pair, share method into the classroom?

Douglas Thomas author of A New Culture of Learning said:

“Learning is a fundamental easy thing we do from the day we are born until the day we die, and that for most of our lives its natural and its effortless everywhere but school.”

 If you were to go from my classroom to the classroom down the hall you wouldn’t see much difference in the learning environments. This is because everyone that teaches around me including myself were all taught using the same traditional way of teaching as you may have been. The teacher comes in and stands in front of you a lectures from an outline over chapter(s) you were supposed to read before class and then you go home and study the book and notes until you have it memorized so you can come back to class and put it on the test. I have learned recently that there is a better way to educating minds.

Creating a significant learning environment takes into consideration the learners passion- what do they enjoy doing, their imagination- asking “what if”, and constraint- giving them an opportunity to create in the face of an obstacle.

Developing a new Learning Philosophy was not easy because I am a skills learner. This makes me very analytical because you can give me a task with set parameters and I can practice is over and over then I can perfect it and get faster producing quantity and quality. You could say I had a fixed mindset. Developing this new learning environment has caused me to have to change to a Growth Mindset, where I have to embrace challenges, be persistent with setbacks, and learn from criticism, but by my changing I have learned what I need to do to spark my students.

I would be the first to tell you that I am not a reader. My self diagnosed Adult Attention Deficit Disorder does not pair well with reading, but this journey has pushed my limits and given me an understanding of the importance of reading and article reviews needed information and facts from other educators.

 “What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.”

Zig Ziglar

Part of this change was developing goals for the learner, these goals are the driving force to developing the new learning environment.  Some even develop a BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal), this big overreaching goal is what you use to set your sights on, not the unattainable but a very high goal that keeps you trying ever reaching higher and higher to continue changing the learning environment for my learners.

“Design is a funny word. Some people think design means how it looks. But of course, if you dig deeper, it’s really how it works.”

Steve Jobs

Creating this significant learning environment will not be easy in fact it will even seem backwards by design and it will be time consuming but it will be worth it to me and my students.

 Why would we disrupt the traditional classroom that has been working for all these years? How would we do it? and What is the reason for it?

Why- We believe the education of individuals is the chance to give them a better life.

How- Creating an environment that a student can learn without the confines of a traditional classroom.

What- We give people the opportunity to take their life in a positive direction, by offering a quality education.

The articles of educators that had made the same changes in their education programs were reviewed and social connections were made. This enabled me to see the advantages and possible disadvantages that can be encountered with implementing an innovation plan.

As I built a model to influence educators to lead out in changing the classroom, I created some steps that are outlined in the plan that model changes. I utilized the 4 disciplines of execution model (McChesney and Huling 2012) that would give the Wildly Important Goal (WIG) of:

Develop a plan that can foster problem solving by developing the student’s ability to take responsibility for their own learning with peer involvement using the think, pair, share method.

With this goal putting focus on the ultimate goal which is to stretch the boundaries for organizational change. I developed some vital steps to direct our path through this change.

  1. Giving students practice with problem scenarios while in clinical.
  2. Give students convoluted problems while in class to work together with other students.
  3. Students practice with two directional problems to learn the correct steps to use to solve problems.
  4. In class students are given problem scenarios with multiple answers to work towards the best answer.
  5. Using Poll Everywhere in class will allow students to utilize the think, pair, share method.
  6. Use repetitive problem-solving questions involving equipment to reinforce student’s ability to problem solve.

 

These vital steps are behaviors that need to be repeatable high-leverage actions performed crucial moments that will lead to the results we want. (Harapnuik, 2016)

The need to improve student’s problem-solving ability by implementing the think, pair, share method using technology in the classroom has been difficult due to the stigma that “new technology” brings with it. The whirlwind of day to day teaching, keeping up with changing technology, along with the administrative duties of work, is what makes implementing this plan so difficult.

Setting the Wildly Important Goal at a high level will give a clear finish line for students to achieve. Charting the outcomes each week and being able to compare them to previous scores will keep the administration and faculty focused and they will see if they are winning or losing. Establishing a meeting at the end of each week to discuss what is the 1 or 2 things that can be done and make commitments for the next week. This 4 Disciplines of execution part of the plan is to provide the outline for engaging the ones responsible for implementing change in class and track improvements each week that will culminate in higher outcomes.

This innovation plan is a living breathing plan that is ever changing. I continue to develop this innovation plan to work for the students in the histology program at Baptist Health College Little Rock with a hopeful implementation date in spring semester of 2018.

 

  

 

 

References

  1. Covey, S., McChesney, C., & Huling, J. (2012). The 4 Disciplines of Execution: Achieving your wildly important goals. Simon and Schuster.

  1. Harapnuik, D. (2016, January 29). 4 Effective Ways to Find and Test Vital Behaviors.

 

 

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