Evolving into a Better Teacher & Learner

When I first enrolled for this course I had no idea what to expect. I completed a couple blended courses in my undergrad and taught in a blended learning model using flipped classroom elements, but never participated in or completed an online course for myself. I wasn’t sure how I was going to balance my crazy work travel life with the demands of this course.  Much to my surprise, I was able to manage my responsibilities in both environments relatively well, but I know that I still have a lot of work to do to be a better, more engaged graduate student in my future coursework.

Beyond learning about myself as a graduate student, I learned more about teaching with technologies than I thought was possible.  I came into this course with the preconceived notion that I possessed much of the knowledge and experience that would be addressed in this course and I was really excited to realize in Week 1 that I was going to learn far more than I expected. As a special education teacher who taught at a blended learning high school for four years, I was using technology every day. My students had their own personal laptop and I utilized digital curriculum and online curricular programs and resources on a daily basis. I thought I knew what it meant to effectively integrate technology into instruction, but I quickly learned that there was SO much more to this that I ever know.

My biggest “a-ha” moment was learning about TPACK and the repurposing activity.  Watching Dr. Mishra’s video resonated with me very deeply as an educator and truly made me rethink the way that I would plan instruction going forward.  I’ve always upheld the mindset that the technology is just the tool, but that week’s lesson allowed me to think completely outside the box of how to use technology tools to elevate learning opportunities for students and allow them to demonstrate their learning in a myriad of innovative ways.  This learning will absolutely influence my instructional planning and professional practice going forward.

It was also extremely powerful to be able to access and learn from my colleagues’ work throughout this course.  With each person bringing their own background and experiences, my learning was expanded and enhanced. I learned so much from reading my colleagues’ opinions, viewpoints, and practices and this continually influenced and challenged my own approach to this course and my own philosophies and practices.  Also, while preparing my own reflection, I read through a few of my colleagues’ reflections and had to laugh when Tom Day referenced the functionality of D2L. I share his sentiment for disdain of the platform. Other than the course content, the platform is hard to navigate and find features and information.  I struggled with this throughout the course. I definitely missed information and just figured out how to see my grades two weeks ago.  This technology, in my perspective, is not user-friendly and would not be successful in my classroom. However, it’s another tool I need to learn how to use in order to be successful in this graduate program so I need to “play” more and figure out how I can best utilize this platform to improve my learning!

When tasked with this reflection, my initial thought was, “I survived,” but when I began to really dive into my reflection, I realized how powerful each week was for my approach to teaching in the future.  Although I have a lot to learn and change about my own learning habits and practices in future courses, I think my reflection has changed from, “I survived,” to, “I’ve evolved into a better teacher and learner.” I really enjoyed this course and it made me even more excited for what’s to come in my graduate journey!

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