COVA or Not to COVA…

I continue to wonder about my abilities to implement a true COVA environment in my fifth-grade classroom. I know that I believe in the COVA model and the philosophy behind it. I know that if my students “aren’t thinking about the learning process, we must ask if they are really learning?” (Harapnuik, Thibodeaux, Cummings 2018). Fighting with my fixed mindset about this is becoming a daily grind for me, and starting to really be frustrating, but I know that I cannot give up for the sake of my students. I used Choice menus last school year in my classroom and thought I was providing “choice” for my students. Now that I started reading about the COVA model, I realize I was so mistaken and really was not even close to providing true choice in my classroom. My students deserve to be given true “authentic learning opportunities” to allow for their growth and learning (Harapnuik, Thibodeaux, Cummings 2018).

As I contemplate the next step in the sequence of bringing my classroom closer to the COVA model, I keep hitting the obstacle of the “test” and how I can make sure that these authentic learning opportunities help students prepare for the test they must take in fifth grade. Making fifth-graders “pass” (I use that term

cautiously as the “passing” rate of 47% is not a passing grade in any classroom in the world) a test that does not provide anything other than a fake sense of accomplishment can only be considered as a weak attempt at making people think our students are ready for their futures. Why can’t we be allowed to provide a real COVA model in our classrooms and let students “be” students and learn on their own terms? Dr.Harapnuik has stated that “learning is the responsibility of the learner and the teachers are not able to make a student learn” and this is just another reason we need to let go of this complete control we try to have over our classrooms and let our students have choice, ownership, voice and authentic learning opportunities (Harapnuik, Thibodeaux, Cummings 2018).

One of my goals as a teacher this school year has been to try to provide the “why” for my students, so they have more understanding of the ultimate goal of why we are learning what we are in class. If students do not understand the “why” and are “told what to do, when to do it, without really knowing why they are doing it or why it is even useful” can we really blame them when they tell us they are bored or do not want to do the work (Harapnuik, Thibodeaux, Cummings 2018). I think that this concept of not knowing why we do something has spilled into our everyday lives as well and “we must start with why and lead from the inside out (Sinek 2011). This will not be an easy journey by any means and I plan to continue to update my progress in my efforts to help my students understand the why in their learning and beyond. Check back as the school year progresses to see what is happening!


Harapnuik, D., Thibodeaux, T., & Cummings, C. (2018). Choice, Ownership, and Voice through Authentic Learning. Retrieved from

Sinek, S. (2011). Start with why how great leaders inspire everyone to take action. Portfolio Penguin.