I Finished My First Course

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"How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time." - Bill Hogan

During this course I was so pleased to explore the way technology could be used in my role as a teacher. We read Carol Dweck's  Mindset, and I discovered that there is a phrase that describes the mindset I yearn to have. The Growth Mindset was something that I knew I had in me but was never aware of how it made unsuccessful moments so rewarding. Knowing that I have the power to decide how a challenge affects me is a game changer. This is a message I will bring into my classroom and rewire the mindset of my students to help them believe that they do have the ability to accomplish their wildest goals.

The Growth Mindset was just one of the strategies I learned in this course. The mantra of "failing forward" was something to which I can relate. Encouraging students and others to see bumps in the road as tiny checkpoints and not as a "make or break" time in their life. The idea infected me so that I pressed it upon my students. During our last project of the semester, I focused on their path to their solution and not them hitting all the rubric checkpoints in order. They were given very open guidelines. In the beginning, this was borderline infuriating to some. It was too much ownership for them. After a few days though, they impressed me with how authentic they made their learning. They brought about a connection to it that was previously an act. "I'll care about this because you care about Mr. Pastrana, but not after the project is over," I felt them saying at the beginning. That was a different story now.

The COVA principles: choice, ownership, voice, and authenticity opened my eyes to how controlling I have been of how my students learn. Ouch. That is tough to say about myself and to admit after 12 years of teaching, but I can only be honest. As country music singer Chris Stapleton sings, "Got nobody to blame but me." Now to continue the change that has taken place and allow my students and myself to grow in a more open environment.


Hogan, B. (2011). How Do You Eat An Elephant?: One Bite at a Time. Fort Lauderdale, FL: Llumina Press.
Stapleton, C. (2015) Nobody to Blame. On Traveller. Nashville, TN: Universal Music Group Nashville.


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