How well did the Masters in Teacher Leadership course go?

Here’s a reflection I wrote upon completing my first gig as adjunct professor of education. (I re-print it here because I am as yet uncertain of the future of the Knowledge Base where it was originally posted.)

Premises of MTL 534 (Implementing Technology and Multimedia Tools to Enhance Learning):

  • That the teacher-leader candidate would learn constructivelyengaging in PBL (problem-and project-based learning), and learning as the situation and his/her purposes demand.
  • That the teacher-leader candidate would act as a reflective, life-long learner engaged in on-going, continuous improvement of knowledge and skillsets, and positioning him/herself to collaborate globally via online PLNs.
  • That the teacher-leader candidate’s learning would be authentic and inquiry-driven, the outcome of reseaching these relevant questions:
    • What are the important trends in educational technology, and how might they improve my teaching?
    • What are the advantages and drawbacks of various educational technologies?
    • In what ways can educational technology improve my leadership?
    • _____________ (insert your own important question here)
How well have the premises been met?
Please post your thoughts below. (Separate yours from other candidates’ by inserting a horizontal line.)

In my sophomore English class, at the start of each semester, students identify one or two literacy goals they aspire to reach. At mid-term and the final I assign my sophomores a written reflection on their progress toward meeting those goals. I tell them that there is an equation that all real learners know. The equation is
+ Reflection 
= Learning.  
If you take away either of the factors–a lived experience or time to reflect on it–no real learning has happened. It won’t add up. The reflection stage is where knowledge is cognitively consolidated. The learner must reflect before knowledge can find deep root in the memory. One day after the last class meeting (June 28), I will start the reflecting, claiming that MTL 534 has made initial progress toward achieving its goal of providing candidates with engaging constructivist learning that deepens their capacity as a teacher-leaders.

MTL 534  candidates had their learning constructively situated in the real-world environment of their own classrooms. They were required to write an extensive grant proposal to solve an actual problem in their schools. Certainly one of the more important roles of a 21st century teacher-leader in that of edupreneur, someone who can respond to crises by bringing together stakeholders and identifying resources to make problems into opportunities. If you need proof of the MTL 534  candidates’ competency at compellingly describing educational problems and solutions, check out their Needs assessments and Action Plans page.  Whether they sought better tools for writing analysis, image reproduction for an AP art class, scientific observation, or mathematics learning,  the grant proposals functioned as vehicles to engage in meaningful PBL.

In the process of researching their authentically-selected issue/needs topics, building argument briefs for their side in a great “technology debate,” or finding out the best way to sell their grant proposals, MTL candidates constructed a“Technology Toolbox” of five or more useful applications or resources. Ideally, the “tools” in the “box” fell like ripe fruit from the authentic inquiries. The toolboxes are varied–they are not designed for general audiences. Subject area and level differentiate them. And here is another component of MTL 534 that is constructive — learning happens at the place where it’s needed, where the candidate finds him/herself, and not where a curriculum guide arbitrarily says s/he should be. 

Owing to an excellent suggestion by candidates, we included a show & tell or teach-in component to our last technology class session. Certainly, with their colleagues, teacher-leaders will be called upon to discuss and to demonstrate the use of new Information and Communications Technology (ICT). Since it was not originally in the MTL 534 schedule, the conscientious professionals who are the MTL candidates lobbied for and got this useful and engaging component put on the schedule. Score another one for authentic, constructivist learning.

And while only a few are actively engaged in PLNs, each of the candidates has established an account on a social media account for the purpose of expanding their circle of peers for informal learning. If they only dip into the stream of on-going professional development once a week during their professional year, the results could be significant. My hope is that all of them will be able to stay connected to their peers in the MTL program, helping each other become better teacher-leaders for years or even decades after the course has ended

In sum, initial progress toward fulfilling the premises and goals of MTL 534 has, in my biased opinion, been made. 

Could it have been better? Of course.  Hopefully your reflections will help that occur. Thank you in advance for your thoughts!

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