Exactly one year ago this month, my team partner and I began a journey that has become much bigger than we ever expected. We were challenged, as a part of the Campus Leadership Development Team, to target areas designated as areas of need by our campus improvement plan. Of all the areas listed in the improvement plan, we felt drawn to the areas involving academic achievement, student engagement, and college readiness.
Our initial work led us to conclude that a paradigm shift was needed on our campus. Our district had invested a significant amount of time and money on 21st Century Classroom training, yet we weren’t seeing much of a difference, except for the additional Chromebooks we received in exchange for attending. The preliminary round of research led us to believe that the first step toward improving student engagement was to push for a shift in the way learning happens on our campus, and the first step of our initiative was born.
We created the proposal for The Cougar Den, which proposed a renovation of an old locker space into a new, transformative, collaborative space for students. Based on the student workspaces found on college campuses, we formulated a plan to use this space to inspire others to begin to shift the paradigms of teaching and learning.
We extended this plan beyond the physical space. It was a change of strategy which put the student at the forefront. Targeting the most disengaged students, we began talking about extending the shift in learning to our classrooms. The research was clear. We needed to find a way to tap into their personal interests in order to make school matter to them again. We started to plan for personalizing education in our classrooms, but quickly realized we did not have the knowledge we needed in order to see this initiative through. After some searching, I found Lamar University’s Master of Digital Learning and Leading. This degree seemed like it was specifically designed for me and my current innovation initiative goals.
After a few months in the program, the original innovation initiative has morphed into something special. I have studied the research and feel like I have a strong sense of how I can use blended learning to personalize education for students.
In addition, I have prepared a proposal letter to send to my campus principal and the Assistant Superintendent of Strategic Initiatives for my district, as well as an implementation plan that allows for the junior team to pilot blending learning models while working out the details on developing personalized learning plans.
In the final few weeks of EDLD 3505, it became apparent to me that this initiative is really about Becoming Student Driven. The video below encompasses the heart of this initiative, giving students the opportunity to drive their education.
I still have more to learn, especially in regards to creating personalized learning plans for students. I have learned so much since starting this program, and I look forward to continuing this journey.