For the things we have to learn before doing them, we learn by doing them.
I read that quote somewhere along the way, this term and return to it now as I reflect on the past few months of learning. It’s near the end of a really busy week at my school, and the end of a busy day. As I stand here at my desk contemplating my learning, I actually clicked on the Jing link, thinking I might have it in me to try it, and after glancing over the resource quite quickly opted for the blog response, because I’m so tired. My brain is in overload and I can’t quite believe I’ve managed as much as I have. To be honest, I feel a deep sense of accomplishment, and satisfaction with the progress I feel that I have made considering where I began, though can quickly swing to overwhelm when I consider how much I have left to learn – the thought of trying Jing now, to end (or rather continue my learning) with something new just about shut me down! I’m lucky that I’m learning to take things one day at a time and breathe. For the things I need to learn before doing them, I am learning by doing them – Jing can wait because when the spirit moves me, I’ll get to it!
I’m not sure if I ever shared that through the early weeks in my position, with several people advocating for both me, and my position we were able to garner more teacher time. I went from working two and a half days a week, to four-full days. We increased my resource teacher time by .1 and my teaching time as well. I couldn’t be happier. I have found a space with a group of people I respect, and value. They work hard for the students who chose a distributed learning context for their education. I have committed to learning the online skills to become a knowledgeable, skilled, facilitator, and to securing a teaching position for the long term in this program. As a .8 teacher I am much better able to be a part of the team and to adequately meet the needs of my students. It has been a wild ride and I have been put to the fire.
I think the most relevant skills learned have been the technological ones. I have always been a “thoughtful” teacher in the sense that I do most things with intention based on my education and research and try to be as creative and open as necessary when it comes to moving students forward. The more theoretical work we did was interesting and generated good conversations with my colleagues and peers, however I feel that the practical skills, such as learning about specific programs to develop units, online communication and organization skills using things like Google apps, Adobe Spark, RSS feeds, etc., structures to develop rubrics and the consideration of assessment was also incredibly practical and useful for me. I laugh now as I look back on work I’ve done and can visibly see the time period from before Google docs to after – so much easier to track my documents and work seamlessly from device to device than before when trying to figure out where I had saved things on my computer!
It was interesting to examine best practices in a DL context and to consider the cross over between what works in the classroom and what works best online. It was hard to integrate a lot of what I learned in the beginning of the course because I had yet to establish a context to apply the tools or consider the application. As the course unfolded, and my job developed I was better able to pair the two and feel that I am both understanding the course content better, and able to use it at work. Using both this course, and the other online course (EDDL 5101) together as good models for online learning design and teacher practice I have been able to structure many of my developing ideas, beliefs and practices about the role of a DL teacher and continue to reflect back into the courses to remind, reflect and continue to learn important facets of the calling. Even writing this summative blog post forces me to consider the process, and reinforces things that might not yet be formed. This learning is quite the undertaking!
I enjoyed blogging and particularly benefitted from reading the blogs of my peers. I appreciate their thorough review of the readings, their well-thought out responses, and questions to generate deeper thinking. The experience of being a student in an online course allowed me to have that perspective and taught me many things about the importance of developing online community, teacher presence, online learning experiences (learning design), and assessment. It also makes me whimsical and wishful that I was still a full-time student able to commit so much more time to my learning! It’s not easy to balance work, life and school!
As I look into term 2, and the upcoming months of learning I am trying to decide how much to bite off and what will be best for my learning and life. I’ve decided to pursue a Master’s in Education now, as a result of starting this online trajectory, and absolutely love learning new things to help my students. I just downloaded a new app to my phone – “Life Cycle” which tracks how much time I spend doing different activities in my day and over time will break down the information to better help me set and reach my goals, as well as maintain the needs in the rest of my life. Two weeks ago when I was neck deep in designing my unit I was not so keen to keep pursuing this learning goal. Now that I am “through the tunnel” and back “in the light”, I know I can do it again, and look forward to what will come. My thanks to everyone in this course for helping me along the way. I’ve learned a lot, and am really looking forward to my Christmas break! Happy holidays to you all!