Updating Today’s Learning Spaces

Welcome back. This week I’d like to discuss learning spaces and how they contribute to student learning. In his book, Sheninger (2019) describes an innovate school named Clark Hall which was setup more like modern office building than a typical American high school. The main objectives for the school were to:

  • “Provide an open, bright, and flexible space for learning.
  • Provide student choice.
  • Integrate technology to engage students.
  • Be flexible with time to focus on learning.
  • Provide students with opportunities to express their natural creativity.
  • Utilize teachers as facilitators.
  • Promote interdisciplinary and interconnected projects.
  • Make learning fun!” (Sheninger, 2019, p. 118).

The school contributes to student learning “with flexibility built into the daily schedule, [that allows] teachers have more time to interact with students on an individual basis, students feel more relaxed and more compelled to engage in the learning process, and collaboration among students just seems natural” (Sheninger, 2019, p. 118).

If I were designing a new educational space, I would probably model my school like Clark Hall. I would want to incorporate soft seating spaces that allow students to work collaboratively or individually on assignments. I would also include bright colors and artistic designs that engage creative minds and are more comfortable for the students. In place of traditional desks in the classrooms, I would like to see tables and chairs, or small group areas. I would also want to incorporate creative and maker spaces in the school to engage students and give them a safe space to seek solutions to problems they are trying to solve.

Along with comfortable seating and spaces, I would incorporate 21st century technology that enables the students to work in a space similar to what they will face in the workforce. I would want to make sure that my school “building contains high-powered wireless internet connections, natural light, a laptop for every student, and collaborative spaces in the hallways” (Sheninger, 2019, p. 119). I would also want the teachers to be equipped with smart boards and laptops in their classrooms. There should be plenty of whiteboards for student brainstorming and teaching. There would also be designated quiet areas for those students who need a quieter environment in which to learn.

Funding for a new school building is not easy to come by, however I would approach school administrators and stakeholders to gain this funding. I would propose partnerships with organizations in the community – such as the one Clark Hall made with their local YMCA – to help offset some of the costs. I would remind these key stakeholders that reform to education needs to take place in the spaces, not just in curriculum. Many of today’s professional offices have evolved to incorporate many of these ideas. Sheninger (2019) described his trip to the Google offices which included gaming, napping, and massage rooms. While today’s high school student probably don’t need massage rooms, they do need innovative and creative spaces in which to learn if they are going to be competitive in the new workforce and world of tomorrow

Resources

Sheninger, E. C. (2019). Digital leadership: changing paradigms for changing times (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

EDUC 638 Blog Post 3 – Blended Learning and Blended Instruction

This week I have chosen to discuss blended learning, blended instruction, makerspaces, and BYOD programs.

According to Sheninger (2019), “blended instruction is what the teacher does with technology. Blended learning is where students use tech to have control over path, place, and pace” (p. 132). Basically, blended instruction is integrating different types of technology into the established instruction techniques and routines. While this isn’t a bad practice, it also isn’t blended learning.

Blending learning gives students a sense of ownership over their learning. They can use different technologies to gain control over their learning including how they learn, where they learn, and how fast they move through lessons – path, place, and pace (Sheninger, 2019). With blended learning, flexible learning spaces such as makerspaces and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) environments, can make all the difference. 

According to Laura Fleming (as cited by Sheninger, 2019), a makerspace is “a unique learning environment that allows for tinkering, play and open-ended exploration for ALL” (p.123). Makerspaces are an environment in which students approach real-world problems and create solutions for them. These spaces give students a safe environment in which to test their ideas and to safely fail as needed. They are less about what the rooms are equipped with and more about providing students a hands-on learning environment.

A BYOD environment is one in which students use their own devices – laptops, phones, tablets – to school for use in the classroom. It is one approach to moving to a 1 to 1 teaching environment that helps alleviate the financial strain of the school purchasing and providing devices to the students. 

Blended learning, and the use of makerspaces and new technology, can affect pedagogy in that a teacher will need to be more creative in engaging with their students. These blended environments also call for more high-level learning with a focus on critical thinking and real-world application. Blended learning encourages student collaboration and communication. All of this causes a shift to more personalized and individual learning techniques. 

So, how do teachers maintain learning fidelity in these types of environments? Having a school wide instructional philosophy that incorporates technology, 1 to 1 learning, and some flexibility is key here. All instructors will be expected to teach their students based on their school’s philosophy, but there has to be room to meet the students’ individual needs as well. This can be accomplished with the use of digital leadership. Sheninger (2019) writes: 

“If students are to engage in meaningful, real-world learning, a concerted effort has to be made to create classrooms and a culture that better reflect the conditions where kids will work and learn in the present as well as the future. Digital leadership drives school leaders to look past traditional constructs and incorporate trends embraced by Fortune 500 companies. Investments in digital tools and changes to pedagogy must be accompanied by transformed spaces and environments to truly create a relevant learning culture” (p. 138).

Resources

Sheninger, E. C. (2019). Digital leadership: changing paradigms for changing times (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

EDUC 638 Blog Post 2 – Fullan’s 6 Secrets of Change

This week, I have chosen to talk about Michael Fullan’s six secrets of change and the potential roadblocks involved with them. Michael Fullan, a leading expert in change, outlines the following secrets of change: love your employees, connect peers with purpose, capacity building prevails, learning is the work, transparency rules, and systems learn. 

Fullan’s first secret of change is to love your employees. You are loving your employees when you are supporting them so that they are comfortable enough to take risks and continue their own learning and education. For teachers, one of the best ways to do this is to foster an environment in which they can be successful (Thiers, 2017).

One way to create this environment is Fullan’s second secret: connect peers with purpose. Building a professional learning environment within the school and finding connections for teachers that can help them be successful is imperative. “Student learning and achievement increase substantially when teachers work in learning communities supported by school leaders who focus on improvement” (Scheninger, 2019, Fullan Change Secret 2: Connect Peers With Purpose). Once your school has an environment conducive to growth and learning, it’s time to do some capacity building. The three components to focus on and continuously develop  are competencies, resources, and motivation (Scheninger, 2019). 

Another key part of change and an educational environment is professional learning; this is also Fullan’s fourth secret to change – learning is the work. Scheninger (2019) states that “successful growth itself is accomplished when the culture of the school supports the day-to-day learning of teachers engaged in improving what they do in the classroom and school” (Fullan Change Secret 4: Learning Is the Work). Teachers should be models of what lifelong learning looks like, and they should be able to see the same in their leaders. “The best leaders are the best learners” (Scheninger, 2019 Fullan Change Secret 4: Learning Is the Work). 

A part of being a lifelong learner is the use of feedback, sharing innovations, observations by coaches, and embracing the use of digital tools (Scheninger 2019). Fullan’s fifth secret, transparency rules, is all about sharing the work that is being done to stakeholders, parents, and the community. The type of continuous learning environment we have discussed requires “developing many leaders in the school in order to enhance continuity” (Scheninger, 2019, Fullan Change Secret 6: Systems Learn). However, those leaders, and the system as a whole, need to be open to new, innovating ideas. (Scheninger, 2019). In this way, the system is also learning and adapting, hence Fullan’s last secret – systems learn

Even with these secrets Fullan described, there will always be roadblocks and resistance to change. Scheninger (2019) identified several roadblocks to change that employees may bring up. They include bad employee attitudes, a lack of collaboration, a directive leader who isn’t modeling the change, the hierarchy within the school, no support, a fear of change, naysayers and antagonists, poor professional learning, and, finally, frivolous purchases. However, all of these roadblocks can be overcome quickly and efficiently if they are “identified and addressed appropriately” (Scheninger, 2019, Overcoming Potential Roadblocks to Change, para. 1). 

In the past, I worked as a technical trainer for staff and faculty at a university. One of my jobs was to teach the faculty how to use their new school issued laptops with Blackboard and the new smart classrooms. My main focus when teaching one of these classes was to connect with and support the faculty to make learning easier. I would prepare printouts that they could take home with them, and provide my email address if they had further questions after the training. I believe this aligns well with Fullan’s first secret of change – love your employees; in this case my faculty. Many of the faculty members were not used to using laptops while teaching in the classroom, but by breaking things down and offering on-level instruction, I feel that I was able to support them while they learned this new technology. 

I’d like to end this video with a quote I found during my research. Ryan Christopoulos (2016) said, “Education is a service profession. We serve our students and our communities, but as leaders, we must also serve the people we work with. As a member of the leadership team I must choose to go above and beyond to ensure they are getting the most out of their profession, similar to how I approach my students each day” (para. 12). 

Resources

Christopoulos, R. (2016). “The Six Secrets of Change” Offers Straightforward Leadership Approach. Retrieved from https://www.sesp.northwestern.edu/msed/theory-practice/articles/2016/The_Six_Secrets_of_Change_What_the_Best_Leaders_Do_to_Help_Their_Organizations_Survive_and_Thrive_by_Michael_Fullan.html

Sheninger, E. C. (2019). Digital leadership: changing paradigms for changing times (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

Thiers, N. (2017). Making Progress Possible: A Conversation with Michael Fullan. Educational Leadership, 74(9), 8–14. Retrieved from https://michaelfullan.ca/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/Michael-Fullan-Educational-Leadership-Six-Secrets-Interview.pdf

EDUC 638 Introduction

Hello, everyone! My name is Penny Trupe and this is my introduction post for EDUC 638 at Liberty University. I currently live in Bedford, Virginia on a very small homestead – we have about an acre of land. My husband and I have been married for almost 14 years We have three children who are 10, 8, and 5 years old. We also have 2 cats, 8 full grown hens, 4 baby chicks, and 2 baby turkeys right now. We have plans to purchase some land nearby and expand our homestead with pigs and goats and, of course, garden space. We also have about 15 beehives as of right now. I really enjoy working with animals and my husband really enjoys gardening, so we make a good team.

I have homeschooled all three of my children for almost their entire education and I teach elementary science and host a Lego club at our local homeschool co-op. Sometimes, I also work as a database administrator or a data integration specialist, but that’s just on a contract basis. I have a background in technology and really enjoy exploring new technologies and helping others to understand how to use them. In my spare time, I really enjoy baking, reading, taking walks, doing crafts. I like to sew, knit, crochet, and I also do some vinyl and paper crafting as well. I also really enjoy playing board games with my kids.

Right now, I am working on completing my Master of Education in Higher Education with a focus on Educational Leadership. After this semester is completed, I need five more classes before my degree is complete. I am hoping to finish by the end of the Fall 2020, but earlier would be better. When I’ve finished, I’d like to pursue a career as a teacher in higher education and I may pursue a higher degree as well. I’ve been looking into getting my Doctorate in Higher Education. We’ll just kind of see what the future holds right now.

I really enjoy teaching, not just my own kids, but also at the co-op. And I’m really looking forward to diving into educational technologies and their uses. I have background with the administrative side of Blackboard and a few homeschool specific technologies as well. I am excited to learn more about the educational tools that are available. And I am looking forward to meeting the rest of my classmates!