Monday, December 19, 2011

Final Reflection

'Wow 88' photo (c) 2008, Visual Artist Frank Bonilla - license:
I think this is the best word that can sum up the entirety of my first semester of my Masters of Education in Curriculum and Instruction at University of San Diego. I came in with a certain mindset, that I can't even really pinpoint now.  I feel that my perspective of education as a whole has been completely changed.  For one, I learned that there are many different literacies that have developed, some that I'm not even literate in (i.e. business, political, ecoliteracy, etc.).  I have also learned, through a class that has become very near and dear to my heart, that our educational system has been inequitable from the start and that I had to acknowledge this inequity and change my own perspective to even begin to make any sort of change.  Education reform has become my passion.  Which is where this class comes in.  At the beginning of the semester, I had no idea what to expect from a Learning and Technology class.  The best guess I could give was that we would be learning technology tools that we could eventually use in our classroom.  This was one aspect of the class, but not the biggest one at all.  In the very first class, our Professor Jeff looked at us and said that our biggest goal of the semester would be to find and cultivate our passion in education.  This seemed extremely daunting to me, because I had no idea what I was passionate about within education (just passionate about being the best teacher I could be).  Now that I look back, I realize how far I've grown in this short 15ish weeks.  Now, I've named my passion and have made the decision to take it further next semester.  I'm taking Education Reform and plan on learning everything I can so I can become an advocate and fight for better public education.  The passion came from my Historical Struggles for Educational Equity class, but with this class, I was able to cultivate my passion.  I was able to speak about it and share my thoughts and ideas.  This class gave me a voice through my blog, twitter, and diigo.  I was able to write about things that resonated with me (either good or bad), tweet my thoughts and links to my blog, and bookmark articles about education reform in Diigo.  And I really made a connection with technology and educational inequity after the Teacher Panel that we had.  I realized that technology provides a very important role in closing the achievement gap.  Using technology in the classroom is one of the ways that teachers can reach all learners and give them all the chance to succeed in life beyond school.

There is evidence of my learning throughout the semester in my presentation.  Not only did I learn cool technology tools such as Prezi, Jing, Animoto, Blogs, Twitter, Diigo, etc., but I was able to use them and put together a presentation.  Not only that but the most impressive show of my learning was with the wordles.  I didn't have enough time to talk about it in my presentation, but I loved the contrast between my first passion wordle and my second.  STUDENTS.  It's all about the students; how they learn, what they are interested in, the connections they make to the material.  I love that teachers is big as well, but smaller than students.  Teachers are important, but students are more important.  I loved seeing the relationship between teachers and students and how perfectly it worked out in that wordle.  In my second wordle, it shows that I have become passionate about something, that I have progressed from not knowing very much about myself and what the purpose of my education is, to realizing that I am here to make a difference and now at the point of finding all of the ways that I can.

I think the best way to sum up my learning is what I said at the end of my video reflection:

I've learned...
Not just about how to use technology tools but how to use them to make me a better teacher.  I've also learned about how technology can open doors once sealed shut for many children.  Technology is a great equilizer and necessary to make it in the 21st century.

I've also learned...
That my way of learning is not necessarily the best way of learning, at least for everyone.  My beliefs about learning and how to measure that learning were challenged this semester with the ground-breaking phenomenon of taking control of your own learning and a de-emphasis on points and grades.  This semester I had to take a step back and really evaluate my philosophies on education and grading.  I grew up in a system that was very grade-reliant and therefore trained myself to hold high values in grades and judged myself on what grades I received.  I think that grades are important in society, but as I've learned in this class and others is that what society deems important isn't necessarily what is right for everyone.

The most important things I've learned is that our job as educators is to facilitate learning and growth in every student.  We need to shift to learner- or student-centered pedagogy, and that will open the doors to equity in our school system (if only it was this simple).

From a technical standpoint, I feel as I've learned a great deal from this course and have shown it through the work that I've produced in blogging, bookmarking, and tweeting.  Only one of my assignments was not done on time (which is, ironically, this one), and I've done every one of them reflectively.  The one bump in my A is that there was one assignment I didn't do, which was the classroom visit.  Hopefully soon I'll get the chance to go and visit a classroom that uses technology well, because I think that it is really valuable as a future educator to gain experiences such as those.

Thanks Jeff, I've learned a great deal and am glad that I got to be a part of your "pilot" class.  I feel that it was extremely successful and I hope that it continues to be extremely successful for you in the future!  :)

Happy Holidays everyone!



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