An OUTSTANDING Reflection on COVA and Staff Training?
As I write this reflection, I have just returned home from the Louisiana 2017 HOBY seminar in Baton Rouge. This weighs heavily on my mind as a symbol of where I am now. This project began and remains now with HOBY. As I begin to look back at my journey through this master’s degree, I realize where I started and where I am now. Dr. Thibodeaux recently mentioned to me in a phone call how I have changed my perspective and have a new sense of direction since I began the DLL program. This is a great example of how much I have learned from then until now.
I first became aware of the COVA model and significant learning environments during the “disruptive innovation” class. We were tasked with creating an innovation plan and a three-column table to design the curriculum that we wanted to make in our learning program. In the beginning, I thought that this program was really weird, maybe even unusual. In the end, though, I felt great that we got to use these models to design our curriculum. The reason it seemed so weird to me was that I had never done anything like this before. It was clear to me that I was not ready for this, so I took the time to do more research and gain more insight into the volunteer training systems used at HOBY. For me, this style of project-based learning was different, but doable. I had to work harder to find solutions to problems that no one had ever done before.
When I began this project, I decided to turn my attention to the HOBY organization in a way that no one had ever done before. This style of learning really fascinates me now, and I think I should have approached it earlier with an open mind. To adjust to this style of learning, I was willing to listen to new ideas about learning and thinking. Project-based learning seemed so unusual to me. However, since I have been involved with the HOBY organization for many, many years, I found it fairly easy to find my voice. I was in my comfort zone in my non-profit organization. Due to my involvement in HOBY, it was also very easy to focus on my audience, the organization’s management. When I think about leading change, I believe that my capacity has grown in ways that I did not expect before. I now know how to cultivate a “growth mindset” in my students and how to look at influencer strategies to identify the things that need to change in an organization. These were characteristics of leadership that I did not know before tonight. I now want to use these strategies going forward to captivate my learners even better.
My innovation plan is very authentic. Between my Cajun accent, taste for spicy food, and my honesty and kindness, I pride myself on being a very authentic person. I designed my innovation plan to change my organization. For many years, we have had trouble training our volunteers. As many fellow staff have told me, they know about the ActiveCollab program, but really do not understand its workings. I want this plan to be a point of difference that will become a recognized standard in the industry. I am hoping to give this plan to the administrative officials in the organization with the intention of captivating our volunteers at HOBY even better. I am very excited to be taking this step!
The more I think about it now, the COVA and CSLE strategies both align with my learning strategy. My learning philosophy is primarily based around “constructivism,” where people learn based on their own experiences. I want my students in the HOBY organization to be captivated from a global mindset by creating choice, ownership, and voice through authentic assignments in their volunteer settings. Designing a significant learning environment through a corporate world will only enhance the credibility of my program to engage a large audience. I think that constructivism closely aligns with COVA and CSLE since it involves the same kind of “touch and feel” learning model that I am attempting to bring to HOBY. While this is notable, I feel that my learning philosophy has changed to be increasingly broad. I now see “constructivism” as something that not only non-profit organizations could benefit from, but private corporations as a whole. As more and more money is spent on corporate training, very little amounts of it are actually effective, according to Harvard Business Review. My goal is to enter the private sector and change all that. I hope my innovation plan will inspire change in places where there are none now. I hope to be the agent of change in a sea of corporate denial.
There’s another part to the HOBY story. During the previous week before the 2017 HOBY conference, I found out that I had been promoted to Director of Training at Louisiana HOBY. I was very proud of the promotion and it started with a bang. After I arrived in Baton Rouge on Thursday night, I was asked to be in charge of and to design the staff training curriculum that we would use for this year at HOBY. After some thought about it, I decided to take an approach to staff training that was very unconventional. I decided to take a look at staff training through the eyes of our theme for the seminar, “Oh, The Places You Will Geaux,” based on the books of Dr. Suess. My motivational speech was based around “What is your role in the story,” based on our seminar theme. I started the training with a bang, using a cheer to create a spirit of excitement, then having all staff members create a “why” statement expressing their reason for volunteering in the HOBY organization. From here, they added a “how and what” statement by using the “why” as a platform for change. We talked about growth mindsets, how change begins with a sense of urgency, then finished with COVA as a reason for changing the lives of ambassadors. To see how this ends, read the final paragraph to get an idea of how I would end my lesson. For now, please read this hypothetical example of how I would use COVA in a professional setting.
I plan to use the COVA approach to allow my students to become more immersed in what they are learning. While most corporate training programs involve lectures or simulations, I plan to use user-based design and analytics to show how the COVA method could work wonders for adult learners. If there is one lesson I have learned from this program that I would pass along to others it is that people are difficult to change. Most corporate training fails because this premise is not being addressed. The ultimate “authentic assignments” that I could give my students are ones where they find their own voice, understand their choices, and take ownership of their professional lives through completing tasks that pertain to their professional development.
If I am giving a lesson on technology in corporate training, I would have my learners complete a task on cybersecurity that they could benefit from professionally. It would be a significant task that they could put into practice in their daily jobs. I think that the biggest way I could prepare my learners for these tasks would be to ensure that the content area that I teach is thoroughly taught in the training curricula. In the case of cybersecurity, the curriculum being taught to information technology specialists would contain a thorough background of what this field of study entails.
In the end, the biggest challenge that I will face will be whether or not my curricula will be accepted in the corporate world. I know how to be a good public speaker, design good lesson plans, and how to negotiate, but I am wondering if my plans will be accepted by others. Will my learners find my innovation plan useful in their professional lives? Will my future bosses in a new city like my portfolio of ideas? While I cannot answer these questions right now, only time will tell what goes into place and what gets rejected. But, I have a high degree of confidence in my abilities to produce the end results that companies are looking for. The key I will need to remember is that change begins with the entire “heart, mind, and soul.” (Note to self: remember to start with “why.”) After all, if companies waste billions of dollars each year on programs that do not work, maybe I can be the hero that comes to save the day.
In closing, my staff training at HOBY ended with a bang. I urged our staff members to see themselves as “one story, one character, one team, and one HOBY,” with a sense of “why” as creating urgency in their hearts to be the heart of change. This created a round of thunderous applause. At the end, we had a cheer and a group huddle where we recited the motto that I just previously taught. Please click the link at the end to see the cheer from the staff training. My show on Broadway had ended on opening night with rave reviews from critics.
The best feedback came from Chris Frye, a transplant HOBY facilitator from Maryland. He mentioned that our staff training made him think deeper, reflect critically, and expanded his mindset as to what the role of a HOBY volunteer entails. He was completely unbiased in his opinion. When I heard his feedback, it made my night. I have found my niche. I now know that my future exists as a corporate trainer, and my role in the HOBY story made it happen. I want to thank Dr. Harapunik, Dr. Thibodeaux, Dr. Cummings, and my many other great professors and colleagues at Lamar University for getting me to this point. The example I gave you about cybersecurity is an example of how I would use COVA and CSLE in higher education. The experience of HOBY and my promotion over the past weekend were the icing on the cake about where my career should head. It was my first chance to try my hand at corporate training. A great time was had by all! I am very proud of my progress during this master’s degree. My next task to going to be to have everyone take a survey from the staff training and put it into my capstone paper on user experience design.
With this spirit of confidence in mind, I believe that CSLE and COVA could be powerful tools to help me accomplish my mission of changing corporate training in a sea of denial! I feel that we are all one people living in one world, and that there is nothing we cannot accomplish if we put our mind to something. If I look back at it, there was one thing that I learned on Thursday night, and it is that even though no one has hired me yet, my career as a corporate trainer has already begun.Indeed, HOBY is where I started, and it is going to be the OUTSTANDING launching pad toward my future career. I cannot wait for what the future holds.