School districts, campuses and teachers are measured as been successful based on standardized testing. School superintendents brag about their districts to other superintendents based on theses scores. Principals taut their success to other principals based on the same thing and teachers are measured by this score, some of them get their raises based on the same thing. having a high overall standardized testing score is great, but did the students really learn anything? We have been focusing on test scores but were were teaching all the wrong way (Brown & Thomas, 2011)
So, what does creating a significant learning environment (CSLE) entail? The one true thing I can say about it is that it's not happening at my district. It's about the scores, the data. We collect so much data that I wonder why our servers don't shutdown and maybe the reason our intranet is so slow, too busy crunching data. Then we're presented all this data with numbers, tables, footnotes and more; however, we have no clue what it really means, at least the teachers I have spoken to. The one saving grace is that administrators can tell us what to teach, but not how.
I need to find a method that will me to introduce CSLE into my classroom beyond what I have already done. My classroom is not set up in the traditional setting where there are neat straight rows, desks touch the desk in front of it, teachers desk is at the front and whiteboards are the main form if transferring information to students. I have an elevated computer table with a small desk podium on it, there are four rows of desks and I can walk 360º around each student desk. Two rows are angles 45º to the right and the other two rows are angles 45º to the left. I have a 75" TV instead of a large whiteboard where I use One Note in teaching math. I don't give handouts, they copy what I write and then can use them on all quizzes and tests. I only turn on one-third f the lights and my desk is at the back of the class. there is a laptop for every student in my class.
I have had to defend my classroom every year as it is not a traditional classroom, "teachers are battling the administration to make real learning happen (Thomas, 2012). Yet my students love the setup. They feel safe and comfortable in my setting. They are not afraid to give an incorrect answer, to as why or even the dreaded, "what if" questions. They frequently ask if they can use a laptop to check information I stated. I felt that they were challenging me, challenging what I said as fact,; yet I allowed them to confirm on their own, what I stated. Now I realize that "the class work is no longer the focus of control, the network is, we live in an age where we can access all of the worlds information from the palm of our hand" (Harapnuik, 2015). Now I realize that this is their way of learning. They are not the ones who have to change, I need to change. They need to play as they learn.
This brings me to the roadblock in CSLE. A vast majority of our teachers are baby boomers, myself included. Which means, were old and set in our ways. Take a good look around at superintendents, board members, principals and school department heads and you will find the majority are baby boomers. Change is a difficult animal to corral. It's elusive and wild but it can be tamed, I'm an example of that. I love to try new things in my classroom; however they most often failed and I often wondered what went wrong. Now I find that because I didn't know why. Why are we trying this new innovation? The other main issue was that it was teacher oriented. Recipe for failure I feel. It needs to be student oriented with many other ingredients necessary.
This depiction tells us the ingredients for CSLE (Harapnuik, 2015). The center is the student, the yellow is the teacher and the outer ring is all the support for both student and teacher. There is so much information yet if you want to encompass it into just a few items, they are engage passion, imagination (what if...) and constraint (Thomas, 2012). Combine all three elements and you have a platform for genuine student learning. Learning then becomes fun. Now in my planning stage, The next step is to introduce CSLE to my district. I submitted my innovation plan to our districts curriculum director and to my surprise, she liked the idea. I met with her, she is not a baby boomer, and understands the resistance I will receive and is giving me support and tips on how to approach teachers. So the plan is to offer a CSLE class at SCUC-U, our professional development session in August where teachers pick and choose that they want to attend. My hope is that teachers who truly want to change the way we teach will attend, and maybe, even some administrators. I hope to pass on that "the key is that we design an environment that is learner-centered, motivational, contextual, and authentic" (Harapnuik, 2015).
Brown, J.S. & Thomas, D.T. (2011). A new culture of learning: Cultivating the imagination for a world of constant change. Printed by CreateSpace.
Harapnuik, D. (2015). retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=3&v=eZ-c7rz7eT4
Thomas, D. (2015), Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lM80GXlyX0U