COVA and Control: One Teacher’s Journey as a Student

 I’ve never had a desire to pursue any education above my teaching credential.  It was not until very recently that I decided to get my Master’s Degree.  What would lead me to shut the door on the very thing that I tell me students they should aspire to?  What was one the driving forces behind my disdain for higher education?   My first rodeo.  

 In the early 2000’s, all teachers in the state of California were required to get certified in cross-cultural language development (CLAD).  Districts were scrambling trying to figure out how to get their teaching staffs certified before the deadline.  The district that I worked in at the time  sent it’s teachers to a local University.  One of the required courses that we had to take was an examination of cultures.  The major assignment for this class required the student to attend a cultural event that they would not normally attend from a culture group outside of your own(these were the explicit instructions).  After attending the event, there was a written portion that had to be fulfilled.  Looking at this assignment within the guidelines of COVA, it is a perfect fit.  I was given the choice of the cultural event, I had ownership over the boundaries, I had an opportunity to express my voice through reflection in the writing portion of the assignment.  As well, this  assessment called for us to have a legitimate, real world, authentic experience.  

Unfortunately, my first rodeo did not meet her requirements of a cultural event. Why was this a significant cultural event for me?  I am black my wife is half Mexican. I think when working on the project, the professor did not consider the possibility of someone like me.  Instead, the  professor wanted the students to attend an event that would be culturally significant to a minority group.   Again however, because I am in a minority group, some of the events suggested are the norm for me.  Because her view of what a cultural event was not laid out explicitly, I chose to do something I had never done before; attend a rodeo.  

I had to defend my paper, and I spoke on via telephone with my professor.  She could not relinquish control.  As Harapnuik, Thibodeaux and Cummings point out, “since the learning is the responsibility of the learner giving the learner choice means that we as teachers must give up control or give back the control of the learning process to the learner.” (2018)    I tried to explain to her that I knew what I was doing.  I became even more angry that she did not understand that I had taken this assignment and made it my own.  Again, Harapnuik, Thibodeaux and Cummings state, “We must create significant learning environments that will help to support and nurture the learner as they take responsibility for their own learning.” (2018)   I legitimately went out, had Father/Son time with my young son, and enjoyed the rodeo.  I wrote about the rodeo in great detail.   My Professor refused to give up control.  She had COVA, but she paired it with CONTROL.  This left a bitter taste in my mouth regarding that learning experience, and many of other college learning experiences.  

By the way that rodeo was my first and only rodeo.  Even as I reflect while writing this, I realize that I made the right choice by going to a rodeo and experiencing  a culturally significant event that otherwise, I would not have experienced. 


Harapnuik, D., Thibodeaux, T., & Cummings, C. (2018). Cova Choice, Ownership and Voice through Authentic Learning. creative commons license.

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