|Master's Program Reflection|
Current research shows that most people only read 18% of what is written on Web pages. To help maximize that 18%, I have highlighted, in green, the most salient points regarding how my expereince in WOU master's program has expanded and strengthened my teaching schema in ways that will positively impact my ability to encourage and inspire transformative learning experiences in my classroom (Carr, 2011).
I had once thought that I was "born" to teach because I am such an enthusiastic and eager learner. Through experience, I have found that what a person is profficient at can sometimes be a hindrance to their ability to help others with acquiring that skill. The most transformative insights for teaching can come during moments of learning frustration. When instructors learn a new skill that they are not particularly good at nor perhaps interested in, they are becoming better teachers through experience. Using technology is something that does not come easily to me. I am a professed adversary of our modern American culture, to which technology is having an ever-increasing role. I am proud to say that I have previously lived off the grid in a tent for years and currently do not need my cell phone attached to my person at all times. I proudly accept that I am a minority in my negative view of all things fast and easy. A degree in information technology was exactly the kind of transformative stretch I needed to improve my teaching. Teaching efficiency is the product of delivery over transformative learning. Armed with new skills, I feel confident that with more multimedia delivery added to my previously successful teaching style, I shall increase the transformative learning in my classroom.
I have increased my awareness of key issues in media and information literacy. My personal ability to find relevant information and share this information in an appropriately cited format has grown exponentially. I am not only motivated to expose my students to the multitude of relevant issues to help them become more responsible digizens, I see it as a necessary directive. It is my responsiblity as an educator to prepare students for the world they are living in, which includes an overwhelming amount of information and media technology. Finding information is rarely a problem today, but sorting and synthesizing information and knowledge is a challenge of great importance.
I have also increased my knowledge of available resources for presentation and creative production. Fun and learning should not be mutually exclusive. The more fun a student can have in their learning, the more learning will take place. It is true that for some students, the opportunities available through technology are more inviting ways to receive information and construct projects that synthesize their learning. My appreciation for what is available and the power of technology to improve instruction has been greatly expanded through the master's program. The classes at WOU provided meaningful and relevent opportunities to construct products with Web tools. This experience has increased my confidence in using these specific tools and has also given me the courage to explore the multitude of options.
I have a new appreciation for the power of technology to motivate students and increase their engagment with curriculum and learning experiences. The iGeneration, as young people born since the new millineum have been labelled, are truly different than previous generations in attention, interests, learning styles, and motivation. While I still contend that old paradigms of teaching and learning as still relevant (It would be a chronological fallacy to conclude that old is not relevant simply because it is old), I have been convinced that we do need to adjust the learning environment to meet students where they are at and make a concerted effort to balance the good of modern technology with the good of 2,000 years of research and development into the classical models of learning. If we are going to reach the modern student effectively in large enough numbers to maintain the standards of education, affluence, and learning that American's have grown accustomed to, we must embrace a more motivating and purposeful education paradigm to increase learning and stem the rise in drop out rates.
I have been inspired to stay current with educational research and become an active member in education learning networks available on the Web. Professional development is the most important thing an educator can do to help him improve his craft and increase his ability to teach effectively. The opportunities for professional development and ongoing support accessible on the Internet are astounding. I am motivated to be an active participant in this community to improve my own teaching and share my growth with colleagues. I can add to the growing discipline of 21st century education by adding to the information available on the Internet with blogs, forum discussions, and resource construction.
I was recently asked if the master's degree was worth the time and money. Am I a better educator now? Although I did not hesitate to provide a positive response, the answer is still a little slippery. Learning is only the potential to change behavior. I do believe that I will be a better instructor because I want to be and know that change is an important part of the human experience. I would have been a better teaching in 10 years whether I completed this master's degree or not. I will be an even better teaching in 10 years, now, because of the increased avenues of improvment made available to me though my experiences in the program. WOU's master's program has broadened my perspective on what it means to educate in the 21st century. The program validated many of my current teaching practices and changed my beliefs on technology. The new beliefs I have regarding what it means to be a quality instructor has changed the possible avenues of growth that I will now follow. My learning experience at WOU was much more than a hoop to jump through. It was a portal to a different and better future professional self. The rub is that I must now construct that future self through my choices, experiences, reflections, and growth in the classroom. I am not a better teacher today because of the master's program, but I am on a new path toward greatness that I would not have easily found on my own.
Carr, N. (2011). The Shallows. NY: W.W. Norton