Putting a Lens on the Elements of a Powerful Learning Practice

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Reflection on the Elements of Powerful Learning Environment Conceptual Framework

I assert that the powerful learning environment is takes place at the classroom, school, district levels. For the purposes of my project, I am going to place a lens on the classroom level. In order to develop this framework, I looked at evidence from my teaching and administrative experience as well as to what I hope to see in an innovative school.

Core of Innovation: This element is vital to the powerful learning environment. The Core of Innovation is defined as the degree of innovation present in the classroom and moving further in the learning organization. As I am reflecting, the Core of Innovation may be the gestalt of the Powerful Learning Environment and on a larger level the core is the sum of the parts of the degree of innovation in the elements. The Core is not isolated from the school design-school culture. Culture and design maintenance is up to the leadership to monitor, support, innovate and nurture. Culture and design interrelate with the degree of innovation in the classroom, but there is a process here not a stagnant product. Innovation fosters the “power” in the environment. It is the essence of awesome.

The Core of Innovation is powered by the culture and design of the learning organization. In the same vein, the learning organization is comprised of the systems. At one level, there is a powerful learning environment in the classroom. I am acknowledging that the classroom is also impacted not only by the culture, design, and core of innovation of the larger system, hopefully, a learning organization, but also has the capacity to be innovative and to develop the Core of Innovation by delving more deeply into the elements.

In terms of importance, I will note that all of the elements that I selected are equally important. For the purpose of my reflection, I will analyze them individually, but it is important to note that each element is an important component of the core of innovation.

Sharing beliefs and common language
I just changed shared to sharing. The change is important. Since a powerful learning environment is a dynamic, messy, process, it is best articulated in the present tense, things that are going on now. This is an important element because it relates not only to the culture of the learning organization, but it is the basis for the learning organization to create the connections and conversation whose meaning is easily understood by everyone. Akin to vision, shared beliefs and common language are vital to launching innovation in schools because without this element, there is no communication, articulation, and practice. Without this element, teachers, students, leaders, and parents, learn in isolated silos.

Reshaping roles of students, teachers, and leader: Another important element that occurs in a powerful learning environment, at the classroom level. The teacher is a facilitator, the leader a support and lead instructor for the school or the department, and the students are leading the learning through the use of the other elements, sharing common language of learning, constructing agreed upon learning standards, developing authentic products and services, interacting with local, national and global community with the assistance of networks and technology.

Expanding relationships in a Community of Learners
This is an important element since learning environments must provide students with opportunities to develop the soft skills that are needed to be relevant communicators, thinkers, and problem solvers, which some refer to as 21st century skills. In addition, the problems to be solved are not always structured (Reich, 2017). To that end, learners need access to experts in the community locally and at large. This can be accomplished through the many technologies that are available. Non-cognitive skills are emphasized.

Co-creating the Learning Standards
Learning standards are often adopted outside of the classroom. In a powerful learning environment, the learning standards are co-created by the students, again, looking a a common language, beliefs (culture and design), and creating a common standard by which to assess and evaluate the work being done in the learning environment. Just as teachers bring the standards to the practical and relevant level, so do the students with the teachers, with each other and with the outside experts.

Developing Authentic Products and Services
This element relates to the how of learning. It is here that the role of teachers and leaders are very important in addition to students developing products and services. The how relates to reaching every learner, assisting the learners in metacognition and relating to their domains of learning and the domains of learning of others. It also relates to the design of the classroom. Students must be engaged using differentiated, personalized, project-based and universally-designed learning. This is the essence of the learning process; it cannot be taught, but it can be learned.

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