COVA, choice, ownership, voice and authentic learning, was truly a difficult concept to understand and accept. What do you mean I get to choose? It’s mine, not something I parrot and rephrase, I get to give it my own voice and truly learn something new. This is an approach I have learned to adapt in my teaching and in my own learning.
Part A – Reflecting back
The first time I realized that I had a choice in how I presented and submitted an assignment was when we were tasked with creating our ePortfolio. Give certain parameter, we were set loose to create it at our own discretion. My first thought was, what, where is my example on how it’s supposed to look like? How many pages do I need? What the heck is a blog? This was the beginning of a minor panic attack. I looked at many ePortfolios, trying to understand that I had the choice on what it should look like. There didn’t seem to be a common pattern, they were all different, unique.
I decided to dive in with an attitude of, I can do this, not sure what I’m doing but I can do this. After I submitted my initial ePortfolio, I was surprised by my grade, it was good. Lost a few points for spelling errors but overall, it was good. It was here that I realized it was true, COVA was real. It was difficult at first to not have a standard blueprint on what it should look like, but as time progressed, it felt natural for me to decide for myself what it should look like. The more I delved into it, the less difficult it became.
The next hurdle I had to overcome was making changes in the way we do business in my district. My initial innovation plan started at the top and would work its way down. Administration was not impressed, patted me on the head for effort and sent me on my way. It was authentic, doable but I had the wrong approach. So, I redid my innovation and started at the bottom. My own campus and with the approval of my principal, we started it this year. Yes, there are still bumps in the road, each of which is a lesson learned, lesson to be applied on my next innovation project.
COVA was becoming part of who I am but is it not enough. I needed to give it to my students and by doing so, create a significant learning environment, CSLE. It was all beginning to fit together, like a puzzle. My principal was skeptical on my new approach, but she has enough confidence in me to let me go ahead with it. To my surprise, the largest hurdle was my students. Changing mid-stream in the school year did not bode well with most of my students. They wanted plain simple consistency, no change, no trying something new. I was not ready for that setback.
I decide to start with the little things. I stopped saying, you’re wrong, that’s not it, what are you thinking about, etc. All the negative responses when a student gives an incorrect answer. I changed it to, that would be right if we were talking about…, or that’s close or your half-way there. Using a positive spin on their answers so they didn’t feel rejected. That simple change created more participation that I would have imagined.
Part B – Reflecting forward
I realize that change happens in small bits. Attempting to make a drastic change is like running into a brick wall. I intend to use the COVA and CSLE models next year, but I intend to start at the beginning of the year, not try to introduce it mid-stream. I have had positive feedback from peer walk-through, wondering how I managed to get the participation I have during lessons. They also noticed that I give students the opportunity to explain a math problem themselves to the class instead of me lecturing. I mention COVA and CSLE, but they don’t understand a brief explanation of it. My hope is to have professional learning next year on it, maybe my next innovation project.