What a roller coaster ride the past 18 months has been!
It was June of 2015. I was teaching summer school. I mentioned to a colleague that I wanted to go back to school, but didn’t know what I wanted or where I should go. She had just finished her Masters through Lamar and immediately directed me to the new Digital Learning and Leading program that her professors introduced to her. Being a technology teacher, I have become increasingly drawn to how technology affects us all. How can we use these tools to become better teachers? How can students use technology to deepen and further expand their learning? I was 90% certain this was the program for me.
I applied and then called my mom, my Nana, and my sisters. I told them of my choice. They were just as excited as I was. We all knew that it would take a toll on the time we spent together. My Nana and I drive an hour and a half once a week to a training club with a few of our dogs. Each week on the way to class I would read assigned articles, respond to discussion postings, and watch videos. My Master’s degree was a part of my family’s lives as well.
The entire Masters experience has been an exhausting, but enlightening one. I have spent countless nights and weekends reading, writing, and researching. More so than I had done in the past 7 years (since my Bachelors). The highs of completing projects and posts definitely outweigh the lows of being tired the next morning.
In the past 18 months, I devised an innovation plan, created numerous videos, wrote oodles of blog posts, developed an online course, and researched until my eyes crossed. It may not look like a lot from the standpoint of my ePortfolio, but I feel like I’ve climbed a mountain. My innovation plan was the first major assignment aside from setting up the ePortfolio. The initial plan was not a success. Lack of training, time, and effort all played a part in its failure. What I’ve learned from that failure is gold. I know how to plan better for the teachers at my school. I know better what tools work for our students. I know how to measure the success through usage, familiarity, and completed projects.
The second major accomplishment of the program would be Creating a Significant Learning Environment. Developing a lesson based with the end as my starting point was completely different. I was able to stay focused on what I wanted my students to accomplish. In reality, I was more focused on them than the goal.
Digital Citizenship was the course that was near and dear to my heart. I couldn’t wait to start, and it did not disappoint. Going through the 9 elements of digital citizenship as well as copyright and cyberbullying sparked a bigger fire in me than before. Technology and the internet are growing bigger and faster than before. Just like in the real world, our digital selves need a sense of right and wrong. It is up to me to start to develop those senses in my students as soon as I can.
The next course was to write with the intent of becoming published. Me? Published in an online world? But I tried. This course pushed me out of my comfort zone and into a place where I had to be confident and completely sure of myself. Did I succeed? No, but I’m not going to stop there. I know what to do to make it better for next time. You’ll notice that there is no link here. That’s because part of becoming published with an online journal or blog is that it can’t be posted anywhere else.
Designing an online course for my students was next on the course list. I’ve used online learning environments before, but I never had to create it from scratch. A lot of time and energy goes into course designing and I’m not sure it was the best fit for me. I can say that I’ve done it and add it to the educational resume.
Another course that fanned the flame of learning: effective PL. Teaching teachers. PD will never be the same if I am leading it. Teachers will have learning/training/development that is ongoing, supportive, active, and relevant. Aside from the innovation plan, effective PL is one thing I want to implement and lead at my school in the coming months or at the beginning of the next school year.
Finally, we ended with the capstone course. A synthesis of the past 18 months of learning. It’s hard to sum up in one blog post what I’ve learned. The ability to choose what I could do throughout the program was the most inspirational part of the journey. Another aspect that I enjoyed throughout the course was the conversational tone I could use with assignments through blogging.
My next goal is to apply as an instructional technologist within my school district. I want to share with others what I’ve learned about leading with an innovative idea, digital citizenship, learning environments, and professional learning. For now, I will continue doing what I’m doing, teaching elementary students technology applications and helping the teachers on my campus with their various technological needs.
What a journey the past 18 months has been! And I can’t wait to see what the future holds for me!
Roller coaster. (2017). Retrieved from https://pixabay.com/en/roller-coaster-rollercoaster-156147/