Revising My Goals:
For the most part, I think my goals still work for me. However, a little clarification and specificity will certainly strengthen them. This is particularly relevant to the third goal of advocating for meaningful science education. I’d like to amend that so that I focus on the curricular opportunities for the students in my school while simultaneously staying abreast of the political climate and what its impact is on education and science in a much broader context. As far as the first two goals are concerned, they still hold true, but I think since establishing them, I’ve gained clarity around what, exactly they mean to me. Initially “keep learning” was about content and pedagogy, but there is so much more learning to be done that will also impact and inform my teaching. Frankly, I think every learning experience has the potential to make me a better teacher as long as I keep my mind open to its potential. I think this is especially true when it comes to what I can learn from other people and their personal contexts. I continue to struggle with releasing control of learning to the students. I think this is because there is still quite a bit of pedagogy (a little TPACK, perhaps?) required to facilitate this well so that students have what they need to actually take control of their learning successfully.
Anticipating Change and the Diversity of My PLN
These ideas complement each other, but this is a fairly new phenomena for me. And, to be honest, it started in November. As part of the uproar after the election, I heard somewhere the suggestion to look at the diversity of my social network, and much to my dismay when I did, it was a rather eye-opening and disappointing experience. Most of my connections were just like me in terms of upbringing, race/ethnicity/culture, political beliefs, education, etc. So as was suggested I made a concerted effort to change that. Sought out people with different personal contexts to follow and connect with professionally, and this is where I hope to find and make change. As I mentioned previously, every encounter with another person is a potential learning experience that can inform my teaching and continue to shape who I am as an educator and as a future STEM leader.
Courage to Abandon the Past?
This is a tough one! Clearly there are practices I need to muster up the courage to let go of in order to release more control of my students’ learning to them. This is overwhelming to say the least. I think my educational style allows for students to construct their own understandings of ideas and phenomena, but the initial decision of what to explore and how to pursue that understanding is completely dictated by me. I want to have the courage to abandon that! And thus, I am brought back full circle to my first goal which is to keep learning. (You clever MSU instructors-- was this your plan the whole time?) While I have learned such a tremendous amount as a participant in this fellowship, I think the biggest lesson is that there is so much more that we can do by expanding our networks, trying new ideas, and pushing beyond our comfort zones to improve STEM learning for our students.