Reflections on 697

Woo Hooooooo!

The Light at the End of a Great Tunnel

When people asked me how it was going in my Master's program, my answer was usually the same: "Busy!" And it was! Squeezing full semester courses into a six-week timeframe is challenging. But by putting one foot in front of the other, and relying on the feedback and guidance of my professors, the end is finally in sight...and it feels great!

Each course offered new and helpful insights--even into areas I didn't feel particularly excited about previously. From the underpinnings of educational theory, to specific concepts of instructional design, I've gained an immense respect for the value of this kind of study. Classmates have played a big part of the experience, as have my many fine instructors.

Timing can be tricky: One of the greatest challenges along the way had to do with the incredible series of professional transitions that were happening along side my Ashford path having to do with my own place of employment. Just as the MATLT program got started for me, I found myself taking on a new role as Teacher on Special Assignment...moving out of the classroom and working full-time in support of our new 1:1 iPad rollout. Shortly after this, we lost our still-new superintendent (my direct boss) and we found ourselves in the "limbo" that can so often follow when leadership changes abruptly occur. As we have finally embraced a brand new superintendent only months ago, stress levels have been high, but this stressful organizational change brought with it some surprising benefits.

The positive surprise relates to the incredible timing with which much of my coursework fit with the very issues we were dealing with in my district. EDU-618 was particularly timely, as it dealt with the steps necessary for implementing successful organizational change. To my amazement, each progressive stage I found myself in, that course a point of marching in near lock-step with actual district planning for change. This provided an incredibly fertile learning environment where I could not only theorize about organizational change, but actually participate in it step-by-step. Not only did this provide insight at exactly the time it was needed, but it also proved to literally fuel the very real changes that are still coming to fruition as we approach the new school year.

697 was something of a surprise to me. As I progressed though the 9 other courses, I had assumed all along that the "Capstone" would essentially be the writing of a huge Master's thesis--something I frankly was dreading. I struggled with APA throughout the MATLT program--mainly because my brain connects with ideas more than "rules." Thankfully, I found that while professors definitely noted where I goofed, it became clear that they were chiefly interested in conceptual development.

Dr. Orlando has been fantastic in his ability to provide helpful, positive feedback that clearly let us know he was not only engaging what we wrote or submitted, but that he actually cared about our progress and development. Thank you for a great experience, Dr. Orlando!

Three Biggies...

To Dr. Orlando, Other Professors...and Classmates:

Dr. Orlando, you have a gift for creating an atmosphere that is positive, yet still challenging. That's a tricky balance, and I feel like you've nailed it...week after week. I've had my own personal challenges with keeping up this term, but I've always found your feedback/input encouraging. Thank you for that. Several other professors come to mind as well & in every case...the classes I've most enjoyed were that way in large measure due to the personality, professionalism and thoughtful feedback received. It's easy to tell when an instructor cares...or is just going through robotic motions. I'm happy to say that the overwhelming majority of the professors in the MATLT program have been great. Thank you.

To my classmates...and especially those with whom I've shared numerous classes...thank you for putting up with me. :) It's always encouraging to read discussion responses that help to create a sense of real "classmates," even though we never actually see each other face to face. Thank you all for that. I'll miss you, and wish you all the very best.

Mark Morgan