This journey started back in 2019. My main goal was to explore digital learning and I had the expectation that I was going to have a list of websites to visit or apps to download, use and teach to my students so that I could integrate such tech tools into my classroom to enhance learning. However, I embarked on a journey where I discovered myself as a teacher taking risks and embracing change. A journey that had its lows and highs but that shaped me as a lifelong learner.
I decided to start teaching Spanish at the Secondary level in 2017. As I was learning the content and new strategies to meet students’ needs, I faced a challenge that was common in the Foreign Language Department: student engagement. I started integrating technology in my classroom but did not really know where to start, which is when I decided to pursue the ADL program to support myself and my students. A second big change was COVID-19. This change caused me to rethink the way I was teaching and meeting the needs of my students.
Throughout the program, I was given the freedom to choose what I wanted to change in my learning environment. That’s how I started my innovation plan. The main goal was to pilot the blended learning initiative in my classroom during the second semester of the 2020-2021 school year and continue with a wider initiative during the 2021–2022 school year. In addition to that, I created a platform – an e-portfolio – to reflect upon my learning throughout the program. I felt I had ownership of my learning, which is exactly what I wanted for my students. I have to say that it was not an easy process. But I realized that what I was doing in my classroom could help other educators too.
I created a Literature Review that was adjusted throughout the program as I was always exposed to new learnings. In addition to that, I was able to create my own learning manifesto and reflect upon my why. As an educator, I believe it is my responsibility to teach my students the skills they will need in the future. I truly believe that 20 years from now most of the students around the world will not need to physically be at a campus in order to get a degree. This is exactly why in my innovation plan I propose that students need to be exposed to a blended learning approach.
Throughout my teaching experience, which has not been long, I realized that I learn something new everyday. Failure became a constant in my career when I was implementing my innovation plan. When thinking of failure, most individuals place a negative connotation on it. However, failure leads individuals to find creative paths for them to reach success and reassuring having a growth mindset. In order to achieve this, individuals need to feel they are in a safe environment in which healthy relationships have become so important to well-being and safety that the brain creates a social engagement system to ensure the individual stays connected in good standing with others (Hammond, Z. 2015, p.73). I am grateful I was not alone in this journey. I had support from other teachers at school who were interested in learning about blended learning as an approach to increase engagement in the classroom. My peers from the program also were instrumental in my learning journey. They pushed my thinking, provided feedforward to make me a better educator, and encouraged me when I was stuck.
Reflection was one of the highlights of the ADL program for me. Every assignment I had pushed my thinking and challenged me as an educator and learner. I was able to reflect upon my learning philosophy which describes why I became an educator and what drives such a passion for teaching and learning. The pandemic and the work I did at school allowed me to change my mindset about new cultures of learning. When I first started teaching, I looked forward to designing my own units. But, little did I know the thinking behind such a task. Although I have some years of teaching experience, I am still learning how to develop effective and engaging curriculum units that are meaningful and relevant to each one of my students.
Curriculum design is an area of growth in my context. Exploring the UbD and Fink’s frameworks and creating units using both designs was a huge task that allowed me to have a change of mindset. To be honest, the Self-Directed Guide (titled Aligning Outcomes, Assessments, and Activities) required me to really zoom out to see the bigger picture of the unit. This is a process that I am not accustomed to being engaged in, but that certainly helped me with my growth mindset. Even though I struggled through the process, I did not give up. I read the articles two times and used a wide variety of resources to really understand the differences and similarities between the two frameworks. It really pushed my thinking and helped me grow as an educator.
Where am I now and what is next? The ADL program influenced my learning journey by improving my ability set with a variety of innovations aimed at making me a better educator and learner. When I started this program, my goal was to learn more about technology integration. However, as I advanced through the classes, I did not limit myself to that. I am reflecting upon my own practice, taking risks in the classroom, and changing my fixed mindset from the students are not able to do it to a more what plan can I have in place so that I can support my students. I wrote an article about this learning journey, which I plan on submitting to Edutopia or We Are Teachers. I feel empowered to continue sharing what I do in my classroom. I want my students to learn and be equipped with the skills necessary to be productive members of society and I want to share how I work towards such a goal.
My Creations – Quick Links
- Innovation Proposal
- Implementation Plan
- Disruptive Innovation
- Concepts of Educational Technology (Growth Mindset Plan & Learning Manifesto)
- Leading Organizational Change
- Creating Significant Learning Environments (Learning Philosophy, Aligning Outcomes, Assessments and Activities, CSLE/Growth Mindset)
- Developing Effective Professional Learning (Alternative PD)
- Assessing Digital Learning and Instruction (Action Research, Literature Review II)
- Resources Digital Environments – Publication and Media Project Pitch
- Instructional Design – Online Course
- Innovation Project Update
- Blog posts page
Harapnuik, D. (n.d.). COVA. Retrieved from: http://www.harapnuik.org/?page_id=6991
Harapnuik, D. (2015, January 9). The head won’t go where the heart hasn’t been. It’s About Learning. Retrieved October 21, 2021, from https://www.harapnuik.org/?p=5461
Hammond, Z. (2015). Culturally responsive teaching and the brain: Promoting authentic engagement and rigor among culturally and linguistically diverse students. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin