COVA Model and Creating Significant Learning Environments

As I wrap up my time in the M.Ed Digital Learning and Leadership program we are being asked to reflect. It is an immense request because we have learned so much over the past year and a half. At this point, it’s hard to recognize how much I’ve changed until I start reading my reflections and documents from the beginning of this program. Perhaps the biggest change of all was the acceptance of the COVA model as a student. My reflection on the past 18 months on the COVA model and CSLE is below.

As a notorious people pleaser, one of the most difficult aspects of this graduate programs was realizing that I had the freedom to address the needs in my school as I saw fit. Being the people pleaser that I am, I’m not sure that I was ready to take on that autonomy. I found myself insecure in my path and needing reassurance from those who have more experience than me. I was used to being able to look at the rubric and checking off the items required for an assignment. This was a frustration in the beginning yet became a positive thing further into my coursework.

My “aha” moment was during a Google Hangout with Dr. H regarding an assignment I was struggling with. It didn’t really work for me and, throughout our conversation, I realized that I could actually adjust the assignment to fit the needs of my school and my position instead of jumping through the proverbial hoop. This was when I felt that this Master’s program could really be helpful for me since I could make it relevant for my job. I could apply things immediately and adjust the assignment to fit my needs as a Digital Learning Coach/Blended Learning Lead. This made the program invaluable for me.


Looking back, I’m not sure that I would do anything differently to come to the realization that COVA was going to be a powerful instructional model. I think that students can be told they will have the freedom to choose and have a voice in their assignments but until they wrestle with the reality of true choice and voice, a somewhat daunting change, it doesn’t have the same effect.

As many mentioned in our class discussion, myself included, finding my voice for MY audience has been a difficult task. Again, it was a shift in thinking from traditional instructional models to a COVA model.  I have had many conversations with both Dr. Thibodeaux and Dr. Harapnuik regarding my audience. It’s still something I struggle with a little as my audience could be the leadership team, the teachers, or the students. I find myself having to be very intentional in identifying who I am addressing but it has allowed me to thrive as a school leader. 

I love the idea of promoting change within my organization but that journey is a difficult one. Support has not always been present from the administration/leadership team even after presenting a literature reviewabout the importance of having support for teachers when implementing technology. My focus is to really try and speak to the heart rather than the head.  I continue to try and garner support for my work but it is major frustration for me as I work on my innovation plan.

My innovation plan has shifted a bit over the past 18 months in order to address the needs of my teachers and my school. I feel like it is authentic. My work as a Digital Learning Coach and my work in the DLL program have had a good bit of crossover. We just began our latest Professional Learning sequence on Formative Assessment and Data Analysis to group students. This is guiding our work towards the District’s goal of increasing rigor in the Peer to Peer stations in our blended classrooms. I am proud that we are finally doing Professional Learning on Formative Assessment as this was something I fought for last year and leadership felt that it was unnecessary. It’s taken almost a full year but it my push for a much-needed foundation in formative assessments is being recognized.

I believe that over the course of this graduate program I have grown in my understandings about what makes a good classroom for the 21st century learner. Students need the ability to have choice and voice when completing authentic assessments. This allows them ownership in their learning process which creates an environment where students feel valued. Students must feel the teacher/facilitator will let them stretch their proverbial wings and try…even if they might fail the first time. Creating this kind of significant learning environment sets students up for success because they know there is a safe space to step out of their comfort zone and trust that the teacher will be there to help them fly.

 Harapnuik, D. (2015, May 8). Creating significant learning environments (CSLE). Retrieved from

Moving forward in my role as a Digital Learning Coach I need to continue to ensure that I am using the COVA model. A “one-size-fits-all” Professional Learning model does not work for my teachers. I want to continue to add in student choice and voice on assignments. I think it is important for them to grapple with that freedom as I did at the beginning of this program. It provides such a sense of ownership when you know you’ve made something of value not because you had to but, rather, because it was relevant to the work that a teacher is doing in his/her school. I know there will be some pushback with some of my teachers because it means they cannot complete the checklist. They will have to search for what will make a difference for them–and it’s a huge mindshift; however, it’s worth it.


Duckworth, S. (2016, January). Continuum of voice [Digital image]. Retrieved March 15, 2017, from

Harapnuik, D. K. (2016, September 29). COVA Model. Retrieved March 15, 2017, from