As I have developed my ePortfolio innovation plan, I have continued to visit and revisit my thoughts and ideas every step of the way. The courses which I have taken, have helped to open my eyes to what effective professional learning looks like and how to implement it, research across the globe, resources that can guide me toward success, and how to effectively lead and initiate change within my organization.
This learning process has been quite a journey. It was very interesting to learn about the different steps that go into properly implementing an innovation plan at an organization such as my high school. I think what really worked for me was collaborating on this project with all of my classmates and professors. Everyone had different perspectives and insights relating to my innovation project, which was challenging at times, but I valued the feedback I received along the way and always worked towards rethinking my plan and evaluating its effectiveness in all stages.
Initially, I wanted to implement ePortfolios within my special education department because it was impossible for students, teachers, and parents to track and evaluate the student’s post-secondary transition plans throughout their four years of high school. I won’t lie – I was looking for a quick fix to this departmental problem. However, through this program, I was able to expand my thinking and incorporate more COVA-related approaches so that these ePortfolios would be more than online storage – they would enhance instruction and improve student learning and reflecting. Despite adjustments, much of my original innovation plan is still in tact. The promotional video I created will still be used to help teachers see the purpose behind my plan. My literature review will provide my colleagues with information about current technology trends and how those trends support the use of ePortfolios. And my 4DX plan will help me jump-start my innovation plan and follow my ePortfolio timeline.
With the use of various resources documenting case studies from around the world, I created a presentation that highlights what worked, what did not work, and how the information applies to my initiative. To broaden my perspective on technology integration, I explored important research through additional resources and compiled that information into a second literature review. While allowing me to dig deeper into the reasoning behind my new initiative, this research also helped me to determine what worked, what could have been done better, and how to apply these lessons that I learned to my ePortfolio initiative. Based on the research I gathered and the adjustments I made, I identified the following areas of focus which have assisted me as I updated my innovation plan throughout our coursework, and which will continue to assist me in my future goals:
- Clear vision and support from stakeholders for the ePortfolio initiative
- Strong IT infrastructure and support
- Adequate resources for ALL students
- Proper teacher training
- Blended learning and redesigned learning spaces
- Student skills in using multiple devices in and out of school
- Continual support from new research
This information has helped me to redesign my original innovation and implementation plans to justify the change within my building. These changes will lead to more success for students and teachers. My overarching goal of developing life-long learners remains in place and I believe that my chances of achieving this goal has improved greatly with these developments and supporting research.
From this experience, I learned how deliberate and focused you have to be to implement change in classrooms and school buildings/districts. I feel like I could have done a better job at piloting the ePortfolio class this year, but I got caught in the whirlwind of parenting, coaching, teaching, taking classes, and just plain old living… that I did not start my ePortfolio implementation at all. Not until a few months into the school year. But that’s ok – sometimes you have to give yourself grace and recognize that there will be tomorrow and there will still be a need for implementing my ideas, but if I’m not fully on board or fully focused it won’t work. So I waited until I was fully focused and I can say that it has made all the difference. I am ready for these ePortfolios now.
Currently, I am at the point where I am designing the implementation of these ePortfolios within our department. At a recent inservice session, two colleagues and I were able to sit and plan what transition artifacts our students would need to complete each year, as well as several other artifacts that they could complete. From there, we started looking at platforms that the students could use, and since our school is a Google-based school, we decided that using Google sites would be a great fit. Now, since I have done allllll of my work for this program on WordPress, I am slowly taking the time to learn Google sites and how the creation of a site works. By slowly, I mean I have until the beginning of next school year to figure it out. We have decided to implement our ePortfolios at the start of the next school year when we have a fresh new group of freshmen coming at us. My colleagues and I do still have a lot more planning to do, but I am excited to continue to meet with the buddies I have gotten on board with my idea and to see where our 3 minds take us!
This learning process has been incredible. Not only have I learned about how to effectively develop and run professional learning sessions, but I have discovered the type of learner I want to be. I have learned how to learn based on a growth mindset and I also know how to support and encourage this type of learning in my classroom. What worked really well for me was collaborating with others. The collaboration helped me step outside my comfort zone and allowed me to depend on others in order to experience success. Without this, I do not believe my plan would have developed into what it is now.
Looking back, I definitely could have done some things better or differently. If given the chance to repeat this whole process I would devote more time to reviewing the materials. Life happens at a fast pace, and at times, I struggled to concentrate on the information and research as much as I would have liked to. There is so much information out there that supports my plan for ePortfolios so finding more time to devote to sifting through it could only help improve my plan. I also would have spent more time on the presentations and videos. We have had opportunities to revise and improve our literature review papers, but we really only worked on each media product once. I wish I would have been able to devote more time to those. I truly feel that the only other thing I could have done better to have developed a better plan is accept the concept of COVA and self-directed learning sooner. It is clear that the most powerful way to learn is by using these models, and if I had embraced this from the very beginning, then I could have begun my learning process sooner.
During our in-service days before school begins next fall, I will introduce and promote my ePortfolio initiative. I will start with the promotional video I created and then continue with the proposal and sharing my own ePortfolio. Since an important step when trying to get others to make a change is to appeal to the heart, I will focus on that and really show how learning ePortfolios will benefit students and create a classroom that produces students with growth mindsets. All of this will be done through a variety of tools including departmental presentations, videos, interactive department activities, and research. These all display how much I have learned about implementing change, and when I attack an innovation project again I will take the same steps. I would take my time to fully plan out the proposal, create connections with all stakeholders, provide evidence that supports the change, develop student-friendly professional learning courses, and remember that reflection and revision must occur for the change to be successful.
People often try to make change occur quickly instead of doing it well. This is one of the most important things I have learned from this experience: change takes time if you want it to last.