Lamar University Course 5313, Creating Significant Learning Environments, allowed me to step back and take a holistic view of learning and the changes that can be achieved in our learning environments to make positive improvements. This course reinforced the need to change the way we all think about learning as it starts with the WHY and appeals to the heart. This includes our Growth Mindset which has been the “buzz” in education for a while now, but it took on new life again after reflecting on how I react to recent challenges and failures. It was so amazing to not only recognize within myself that I can do hard things but to also hear that praise from those around me! I revisited my original growth mindset presentation and was pleased to see that I am still modeling and actively practicing the art every day! It has also not been lost that the growth mindset is in itself not the magic “fix” but must work in combination with a change in our approach to learning. By adopting the COVA model, the growth mindset works in collaboration with a learning environment that provides authentic learning opportunities, is student-centered where teachers are facilitators AND learners as well where students have choice, voice and ownership that is engaging, motivating, and contextual. In this course I was also able to research and understand more clearly the various learning theories and where I personally fit within those models. A New Culture of Learning by Douglas Thomas reinforced the importance of passion, imagination, and play within the learning environment. The visual reminder of 21st Century Learners was powerful and something I will continue to use and share with my fellow educators in my future meetings and trainings – it is a perfect reminder to be aware of our learner’s needs and the necessity for the change in our learning environments. Combining everything we worked on the past 8 weeks about creating a significant learning environment onto my website was daunting – we created a bunch of amazing, tangible and multi-purpose resources but I just can’t help but be super proud of the work I completed.
My LU small learning community (not really that small – Michelle R., Maria R., Danielle P., Lindsay H., Avery N., Lindsey W., Aliscia D. and myself) worked closely this term especially when building the conceptual framework mapping. In addition to weekly zoom meetings, we mainly communicated 24/7 on Group Me as we provided guidance, brainstormed options, critiqued, clarified and provided feed-forward feedback on the various steps of our individual assignments. What I thought would be difficult to think of in terms of such a large scale (the BHAG, Fink’s 3-column, UBD) has helped me to work backwards and trace the path that will lead to the deepest learning and most significant learning environments for my professional learning plan. We have been so specific so far in our DLL program that it was a shift to step back and view the bigger picture. In a way, it feels like my hopes and dreams for changing the educational landscape in my small corner of Texas might just be achievable. That nugget provides me more motivation to keep hope alive and keep trucking along despite the on-going changes and obstacles. Working to align the outcomes, activities and assessments will also need to be fluid as my audience and my environment continue to change also. I must say that now that we are halfway completed with our Masters Program, these 2 classes (5313 and 5389) were by far my very favorite. Both courses worked together so well and reignited my passion for professional learning with my “teacher” learners and I just needed to be reminded that I produce my best work when I am invested and passionate!