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Renovations, Reactions & Reflections

This is my final learning project post providing a summary of some of my reflections about the experience I've had over the past few months!


Renovations

I began preparing for this learning project and initially considered several different ideas about what I could choose to focus on. At first, I was tempted to focus on something simple such as learning the guitar, furthering my Spanish skills, or learning how to do something niche like baking - specifically bagels. I remember discussing with my wife and friends, but I ultimately came to the decision on my own - I was going to choose home renovations. Specifically, my focus on installing drywall in my basement bedroom was a practical skill that I could learn which was reported as being somewhat simple, while also helping me to save some money by not having to pay someone to do these renovations. Ultimately, this choice revolved around my desire to push myself outside of my comfort zone. I had already previously learned how to play ukulele and felt like learning guitar would just be another step in the same direction, while I also had done some learning of Spanish already on the Duolingo app, and I am also a somewhat proficient cook/baker so none of these tasks really felt that challenging. However, when it comes to manual labour and home renovations, I've literally never done these before. I felt like this was the best opportunity to challenge myself to grow and learn in a way that would provide some long-term skills that I could hopefully continue to build on.


Reactions

When I reflect back on the beginning of this journey, one of the things I mentioned in my first posts was my previous reactions to engaging in this type of hands-on, renovation work. There are a couple of key memories in my lifetime related to renovations - the biggest is from when I was a teenager and I helped my Dad put together a basketball hoop. My Dad, similar to me, was not very handy when it came to these projects. Additionally, he didn't handle stress in a very healthy way and I vividly remember him getting repeatedly frustrated and angry. This has been the way that I have often responded to completing these types of tasks. One of my goals for this project was to take my time and patiently work through the process to help ensure better reactions. Overall, I would say that I did this quite well. There were a couple moments of swearing, but no moments of total frustration and anger that resulted in lashing out verbally or internally. This gives me hope that I can continue to work on this area of my life, while expanding my handyman skills. There definitely is a psychological aspect of engaging in new learning and for me, the major struggle was often the internal thoughts going through my mind "you should understand this... you just aren't good at these things.." and whatever else internal dialogue may be present was always often negative. This is an important reflection because it makes me think of those internal barriers that our students likely face when trying to engage in a new or difficult task.


Reflections

In reflecting back on this entire experience, there are a lot of key takeaways that have left an impression on me. One of the biggest reflections is regarding all of the knowledge, skills, and understanding that I have learned throughout this process. This connection to the classroom and the important knowledge, skills, and abilities that students develop is important as it reminded me of the importance of lifelong learning and professional development. Although learning how to do home renovations is not necessarily going to help me become a better teacher, the fact that I have had to go through the learning process has been a good reminder about the factors that may affect students in their own learning. Although the use of technology was unique to this project, it is clear that the value of technology in education is a tremendously valuable tool that can be used. The resources which are available online, with a simple search and click, are vast and provide you with insights that you wouldn't get otherwise. Throughout this project I did a number of things for the first time: went to Home Depot looking for building and hardware supplies, used a drill, used a caulking and staple gun, while also measuring, cutting, and installing the drywall. If not for the access of online technology and all of the resources related to completing a drywall project, there is no way I would have simply known what to do and how to do it without this guidance and support. This is one of the concrete learnings I have from this project - the value in having an online community. Although I didn't actually communicate with people in the community of home renovations and drywall installation, I felt connected to them through their tutorials, the comments and feedback on videos, and the feeling of going through a similar struggle. This avenue of support where I could seek out quick answers, watch examples, and generally just learn the skills and techniques needed, was essential to me learning a task where I didn't necessarily have immediate support and feedback available to me. Although the access to these resources was such a vital part to my learning, this experience also left me thinking a lot about the learning process and how much we restrict ourselves when considering our capabilities.


Growth Mindset

The biggest reflection on this learning project for me has been thinking about the learning process itself. I had a very fixed mindset previously about my ability to complete renovations and being a 'handyman.' This was reinforced because of the lack of experience, knowledge, and skills that I had in this area throughout my life. My Dad never engaged in these types of tasks and that is typically where you learn it. My older brother has learned this and become very proficient, but he and I have taken much different paths. His career choice has ultimately been a foundational piece to this learning and he has transferred this knowledge and skills into this personal life. I honestly felt like this was a skillset I simply wasn't ever going to be able to obtain and didn't really want to. However, as I chose to partake on this path, I have come to the important reflection about capability and having an open or growth mindset. There is a feeling that old dogs can't new learn in tricks, when in fact, they can! Although I would not go as far to say I am a home renovation expert, I have learned a tremendous amount and believe I have some growing competence in this area that can continue to develop. The fixed mindset belief stems from the idea that we have different skills that are innate and different people are skilled at different things. My mindset has grown and I believe that everyone has learned something at some point and there's no timeline or limit on when you can learn something new. Whether you learned how to install drywall at a young age from helping your Dad in the basement and then going on to work in that area as a summer job, or did it as a 32 year old Education student, it doesn't really matter, either way it's learned. This is a crucial reflection to impart on our students because they are even younger than I am, but often have that feeling that they are either good or bad at things. This made me think about my lack of artistic abilities - something I also felt was innate. However, if I had someone teach me proper stroke and drawing techniques, I'm sure if I was committed enough, I could learn it! I truly believe that this is the case for students. If they have a teacher or support network, a good attitude, and a willingness to work at their learning, they can be successful. This is the importance of a teacher in a student's life - to reinforce this belief in the potential of all people to develop a variety of skills, knowledge, and understanding in an area, so long as they believe they can be successful and are open to growth. My ultimate takeaway from this project is the fundamental belief that humans are truly capable of such a tremendous amount as long as they have the supports and encouragement to continue to grow from mistakes and keep working towards their goals.


Check out my progress photos below to see where I started on my own journey and where I ended up!

East-facing Wall

North-facing Wall

Recommendations

Below are the links to the resources that I used throughout my journey to become a drywall expert (well sort of...). My ultimate advice would be to use videos. I've spoken in previous posts about the limitations of reading about installing drywall and I feel the value of learning is much more beneficial when you can watch someone else do it, pause, rewind, and watch again. My number one source for support was Jeff with Home RenoVision DIY. After finding one of his YouTube videos, I ended up exploring his entire channel which was super valuable as he went into tremendous detail in some videos, while also providing more of an overview in others. He broke down the steps into individual videos which I found was helpful as I was working on this project slowly. The link for his page is attached here. In terms of my use of outside resources, the main exploration I did was my use of WeVideo. Although I didn't make a final video of an accumulation of all my work, I had created a couple of shortened, sped-up versions showing me completing some of the tasks. There were some limitations to this resource and I didn't get to explore too many other resources as I was busy working away on my actual project! I hope you can appreciate the growth I've made and I am thankful for you joining me on my journey and hope the resources below help you if you decide to follow my path!


YouTube Resources:

  1. How To Install Vapor Barrier

  2. Drywall Basics

  3. How To Measure and Cut Drywall

  4. Hanging Drywall on Walls

  5. Drywall Mistakes You Can Avoid

  6. Lowe's Drywall Video

  7. Nestr's - Drywall Basics

Online Print Resources:

  1. Home Depot - How To Hang Drywall

  2. HGTV - How To Hang Drywall

  3. Lipstick for Outlets!

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