Monday, January 24, 2005

Individual Audit

I've been struggling with how best to go about presenting my individual audit. For the moment, for lack of a better idea, I'm going to work through my reflections, thoughts, plans, ideas, and more here on this blog. I have found blogging to be an effective way for me to reflect independently. For some reason, I am surprisingly motivated to write in this manner.

One of the things I have spent a lot of time thinking about lately is the range of classes I have had the opportunity to take through this program. As a reminder to myself, here are the classes I have taken so far:
· Social Foundations of Education Fall 2002
· Sociology of Education Fall 2002
· Children's Literature and Performance Spring 2003
· Asian Education Spring 2003
· Aesthetics and Education Summer 2003
· Human Resources Management Summer 2003
· New Designs for Learning Spring 2004
· Multicultural Education Spring 2004
· School and Community Relations Summer 2004
· Policy in Curriculum and Instruction Summer 2004
· History of American Education Fall 2004

It took me a bit longer than expected to recreate this list, but it is interesting to spend some time considering these courses. I have greatly enjoyed them (with one minor exception). It has actually surprised me how much I have looked forward to attending class and to the readings.

Three of the classes I took are administrative classes. I decided to give one a try one summer and found it to be fascinating. All three of these classes have been wonderful. However, the students have been vastly different from students in the social foundations classes. The atmosphere in social foundations classes is very informal and relaxed. As a result, we are able to support one another, question each other, and work together very quickly. The administrative classes atmosphere is more tense. There is still a supportive environment and everyone works well together, but it is not the same. Each of the administrative classes left me with the sense that those students would greatly benefit from a social foundations class.

I have been extremely impressed with the professors in these classes. Those professors who come up from Charlottesville are fantastic. I took a class with Dan Duke and I would happily take any class with him. He is inspirational. In addition, those local professors have also been wonderful. It has been well balanced between instructors who are academics and live primarily in that world and instructors who work in K-12 education everyday.

All of these professors have challenged me to ask questions about education. This has been the greatest benefit from this program, for me. I am now much less likely to simply accept that the way things have been done is automatically the best way to do them. New Designs for Learning even had me questioning the design of our school buildings. It is a huge change for me to think so critically about these things. I have always been one to accept the status quo without question. Even as I look back at my first few years teaching, I can see how much more effective a teacher and, more broadly, an educator I can be when I am willing to look at things through many lenses.

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