Reflective Essays

As I came to the end of completing my master's coursework, we were to reflect upon our time within the program. Below are my reflections of my time in the Master's of Educational Technology Program (MAET) at Michigan State University. I learned a lot about myself as an educator and how to improve my craft. The buttons below are linked to the three reflective essays I completed during my last semester in the program.

Looking Back
 

My initial goal for starting the Masters of Art in Educational Technology (MAET) was to learn about how to incorporate more technology in the classroom. I was hoping to learn about different applications and tools I can use to help teach my students the math content. There was some disconnect my students had in their understanding and learning. They had trouble recalling information. I felt that technology would help bridge that gap. With what I learned in my classes, my goal was also to share this information with my colleagues. I wanted to be an asset to my school and help improve and grow our math scores. Lastly, I had wanted to do research in my classroom. I wanted to focus on student helplessness. I would use this research to combat the learned helplessness many of my students had. Using technology, I would gather my data and create solutions to help students gain confidence. With this newly gained confidence, I would push my students to do cognitively demanding tasks and improve their critical thinking and problem-solving skills by incorporating technology.

 

My current goals are to become a technology coach within my building and eventually in my district. This is my third year teaching, and I have such a joy for it, I do not wish to fully leave the classroom. I believe coaching is something I could do to fulfill another goal of sharing my knowledge with my peers. The MAET program has shown me the wealth of knowledge I have of technology and has taught me how to incorporate it in the classroom. I want to share this with my colleagues and peers. There is a lot of digital technology that will make our lives as teachers easier and reach all of our students. I want to coach because I would like to work with my colleagues one-on-one and aid them in their integration of technology into their lessons. My goal is to help each teacher have a repertoire of at least 3-4 tools they can incorporate to enhance student learning and engagement.

 

My goals have slightly changed from the start of the program. I still wish to learn about as much technology as I can to incorporate it not only into my teaching, but into my everyday workload as a teacher. Technology is useful to not only the student for learning, but for teachers. As I continue to learn new tools and grow as an educator, I plan to incorporate more tools into my toolbox to create more individualized teaching for each of my students. As my goals have shifted to becoming a technology coach, I no longer have an interest in research. I wish to see what type of impact the technology integration will have on my students. Every year I complete of teaching, it reveals to me something new I can improve on and I wish to improve what I can do first before looking at what my students need to improve.

 
Looking Forward

As my last semester in the Master’s of Arts in Educational Technology (MAET) program comes to a close, I begin to reflect on what I plan to do with my degree. Taking advantage of the hybrid option for this program allowed me to interact and create bonds with educators from across the country who have made an impact on my learning throughout this program. I have learned so much over the past two years. There are two takeaways from the program that have impacted what I plan to do next. I wish to expand my role as a leader. This program has shown me that I am a leader and I can have a positive influence and impact on my students. I plan to step into this role both with my students, by creating a mentoring program, and with my colleagues by becoming a technology coach. Another big takeaway from this program is how to integrate more technology into my mathematics classroom. I want to be thoughtful about what I use and how I use it since the goal of technology in the classroom is to enhance student learning and understanding.

Leadership In Educational Technology

  • My first goal is to become a technology coach for my district. I believe this will be my next steps in my career. I don’t want to leave the classroom, as I am not ready to do so. However, I would love to part-time teach my colleagues how to use the technology we have to make an educational impact on our students.  I have a vast wealth of technological knowledge that I can pass on to my colleagues. I have always wanted to learn new innovative and engaging ways to teach my students. Earning my degree in educational technology was one step closer to this goal. Another step I plan to take in reaching this goal is to become a certified Google Educator. In my district, we have access to the Google Suite. Gaining this certification says not only to my peers and my district, but to other educators that I understand how to utilize the full potential of Google in my classroom.

Integrating Technology Into Mathematics

  • My second goal is to learn more about creating and integrating project based learning (PBL) into my classroom. I currently teach Algebra 1, and enjoy teaching this subject. I, however, have difficulty creating PBL that is content rich. When I taught Geometry, it was easier for me to find, modify, and create projects that are rich in content. As I gain more experience teaching Algebra 1, I am able to create content rich lessons, scaffold content for the best student understanding, and engaging for students. I would love to learn how to create projects that the same level of engagement, scaffolding, and content rich as my everyday teaching is. Implementing PBL is a district initiative, thus, we must implement at least 2 projects per year. Over the past two summers, all teaching staff has gained training from The Buck Institute. I would love to expand my learning and training in Buck Institute. I want my students to participate in projects that they are excited to work on and that change their way of thinking about math. These PBL projects will open their worlds and their minds to what math really is and how they are all mathematicians.

  • My last goal is to become a Desmos Teaching Fellow. I stumbled upon this fellowship when I was exploring all of what Desmos can be. I have taught students that they can use Desmos for graphing and also have taught one of their lessons before. As an Algebra 1 teacher, I would love to become a fellow to learn more about what can be incorporated into my classroom using this online graphing tool. With Demos, students can learn how to graph functions and shapes, add in sliders and rules for added effects, and so much more. I love how Desmos also has lessons that teachers can use to teach some of the basic graphing concepts. With this fellowship, not only will I be able to learn about everything Desmos has to offer, but also get the chance to interact and learn from educators from around the country. Learning from other educators helps me become a better educator.

My Experience in the Masters of Arts in Education Technology (MAET) Program
 

Day one of the MAET program was very nerve-wreaking for me. I felt like I was back in high school as a freshman, taking a bunch of classes with people I didn’t know. I felt like I was in high school and not college because there were only 7 of us, whereas in college there are hundreds of other students. I was also very nervous because I doubted my ability in a master’s program. Studying mathematics as an undergrad had turned me off of more schooling because it was not a fun experience. To be honest, I initially stared the program to get a pay raise. I am so glad I pushed myself out of my comfort zone and did this master’s program. I grew as an educator, a leader, and a person because of this program. I have my classmates, my instructors, and the advising team to thank for that.

 

Before I began the program, I researched what I could get my masters in. I didn’t want to learn about curriculum since I never saw myself leaving the classroom. I wanted something was impactful to my current position and what I could use now in my classroom. When I saw the MAET program, I thought it was perfect. Since my student teaching, I wanted to learn how to incorporate more technology into the classroom. I was also drawn to this program because it offered a hybrid option. I knew myself enough to know that taking classes only online isn’t the best learning environment for me, even though it provides the flexibility to take classes and still work full time. Living near East Lansing allowed me the ability to take part in the face-to-face portion of the classes and interact with other educators.

 

I truly appreciated the structure of the program. Interacting with other educators allowed me to learn from everyone in the room. It was great to learn new techniques and technology from teachers from other states, different contents and grade levels, and types of schools (i.e. private). Interacting with educators with different teaching and learning experiences from my own also helped me grow as an educator. I was able to take all of those experiences from those two summer hybrid classes and incorporate the wealth of knowledge I gained into my classroom to positively impact my students.

 

My first year in the program was at first nerve-wreaking but grew to be this innovative, creative, and fun experience with my six other classmates and two instructors. It challenged me intellectually and creatively that has pushed me to become a better educator. It was an intense experience to say the least, but it was worth it. My second year in the program was thought-provoking, collaborative, and inspiring. It was during that summer that I was allowed the creative freedom to push myself in an area that interests and inspires me. My instructors and classmates encouraged me and to think deeply about what it means to be a leader and the many different shapes and ways one can be a leader. This motivated me to take initiative and create my own leadership position within my building, with support from my administrator.

 

There were four classes that were the most impactful on my learning and growth as an educator in the educational technology program:

CEP 810: Teaching for Understanding with Technology & CEP 811: Adapting Innovative Technologies in Education

During these classes, I learned about TPACK. TPACK is technology, pedagogical, and content knowledge. It is the foundation for educational technology. It is how we can incorporate technology into the classroom in a way that fosters learning and increases a student’s understanding. The goal is to find the sweet spot where content knowledge, pedagogical knowledge, and technological knowledge overlap to create the ideal learning environment for the student. When I first began this program, I wanted to incorporate technology just to incorporate it. I thought it would be cool to use computers in the classroom. I quickly learned from this class that incorporating technology just for technology sake was not the point. I began to think more deeply about what technology I was using and the purpose it was serving. What were the students to learn? How does the technology foster this growth in knowledge better than direct instruction, group discussion, or exploratory assignment? What technology do I want to use? Is this the best fit or is there something else that works better? All of these questions go through my mind now as I begin to plan lessons that incorporate technology.

 

I also am picky about what technology I chose to use. The biggest takeaway from these classes is rethinking what is technology. When we think about technology, we usually think about digital technology that require the use of an iPad or a computer. However, these classes have expanded my thinking to technology outside of just digital technology. Consider this: most math classes have students practice example problems with pencil and paper. A change in pace would be to have students use mini whiteboards to show their work and thinking. In this instance, the whiteboard would be the technology that helps foster student thinking and learning. It doesn’t take away from it because just as they would with pencil and paper, they are practicing the math problems and critical thinking skills. And what student doesn’t enjoy writing on a whiteboard? I am an advocate for using technology and providing students with hands-on learning; thus I spend a lot of time researching and playing around with a new piece before I present it to my students. Because sometimes we as educators get so caught up feeling like we have to use digital technology that we forget about other things that are also considered technology that will enhance our students learning.

 

Gifted with a set of thirty Chromebooks, my focus began to be on how to thoughtfully incorporate digital technology into my classroom. The content knowledge I want to them to understand and gain mastery in determines what piece of technology I use. If the goal is for students to learn a new topic, Desmos allows them to work at their own pace and explore, but also allows for teacher intervention to focus them in on a particular topic. If I want to survey students on what they understand, Plickers is more useful. If I want students to be able to play a game but still work at their own pace, Quizizz or Gimkit is more appropriate than Kahoot. For a more hands on application, we used TinkerCAD to create scale dimensions and models of an object. At the end of the day, the goal is for student learning and understanding to increase with the addition of technology. If it takes away from it, then technology is not appropriate the lesson.

 

 

CEP 822: Approaches to Educational Research & CEP 815: Technology and Leadership

These two classes had the greatest impact on my future as an educator. Prior to these classes, I had never thought about being a leader. My only goal was to become Teacher of the Year (which it still is). I mostly focused on my relationships with students and teaching my content knowledge. I didn’t think further past this or about being a leader. I didn’t see myself as a leader. I didn’t think I could be without being an administrator. These classes pushed me to discover what it meant to be a leader without leaving the classroom. I have no aspirations to be an administrator or to leave the classroom. I aspire to be that teacher that is passionate about their students and refuses to retire. Yes, I want to be that teacher that the entire building says they will die in their classroom because they care so much about their students. As I took these classes, that was always at the back of my mind. I thought about the relationships I had built with my students. I have great relationship with my students because I have genuine conversations with them on a more personal level. Most of my female students come to me when they want advice, need guidance, or support. I want to do more to help them blossom and grow into the successful women they aspire to be. However, during class my job is to teach the content. I don’t get to spend days just talking to them. I realized that I wanted to mentor them since we already had a relationship.

 

I am grateful to my instructors to allowing me to freedom to explore this more. It had been an idea that had been stirring around in my head for a few months. These two classes allowed me the time and space to do though-provoking research into this. This is where my idea to start a mentoring program formed. My research paper was about the impact mentoring has on my demographic: at-risk, inner city, female students of color.  In a TED Talk style of presentation, I presented my ideas about how I wish to be a leader within my school and community. The feedback and response from my instructors and classmates motivated me even more to see myself as a leader. I felt that much more inspired to being laying the foundation to start this program in my building. They even gave me the idea of potentially expanding the program to all of the high schools within my district. I appreciate these classes, my instructors, and my classmates because I was able to take a seed of an idea and grow it. After I graduate, the goal is to start the program with a small group of students.

 

Not only did the freedom to research and being to formulate a mentoring program help me to feel inspired about being a leader, but a class discussion also pushed me to see me as a leader. In one of our discussions, Michigan Association for Computer Users in Learning (MACUL) was mentioned as great organization to join for leaders in educational technology. I began to look into it and saw they were having a conference coming up in Detroit. Without hesitation, I signed up to attend. This invaluable experience was something that inspired me even more. I not only walked away with new tech tools to add to my ever growing toolbox, I felt like I needed to share all of this knowledge with my colleagues. Before school started, I approached my administrator to see if I would be allowed time during professional development meetings to give “tech talks.” With enthusiasm, he built it into the schedule twice a month for this to happen. I believe that without being in these classes during the summer, and not having heard about MACUL, I would have never taken the initiative to become a leader within my building. I now regularly help my colleagues with questions about technology and am known as the “tech guru” for my building. Even before I graduated with my degree, I am putting my degree to work and working towards a new goal of being a technology coach.

 

This program has taught me so much and opened my eyes to so many possibilities and opportunities I had never considered before. Again, I only went into the program with the intention of a pay raise. As I approach graduation, I am looking for the next program I can start to continue my education and learning. I realized I enjoyed being a student when I had control over what I wanted to learn and how I learned it. This program allowed me to possibility to try new things, to fail and learn from my failure, and to take risks. This is something that has stuck with me and has influenced my teaching. I feel inspired to be a leader the goal of giving back to my community and helping my building and district grow. I am forever grateful to the MAET program for allowing me the opportunity to be a part of the program. This program has inspired me in ways I could never have imagined and pushed me out of my comfort zone to become a better educator.