EDU 6120 Session 1: I Learned (Reflection on Career Change)

The concept of the role of knowledge really stood out for me during session one of this foundations course. In my previous career, I designed interpretive learning environments, layering the way a story could be told, or experienced, to reach various visitor audiences. In the classroom, it is important to also layer the way content is taught in order to reach a variety of learners while also carrying a thorough understanding of the material being provided to students. One of my personal goals as an educator is to try to reach every student, organizing my planning to educate learners utilizing the three levels of knowledge acquisition, knowledge “received/revealed, discovered, and constructed”. My secondary goal is to be collegiate throughout my career, consistently enhancing my curriculum to increase and maintain its effectiveness as time progresses.

An enlightenment that presented itself when reviewing the materials presented in session one was the reminder of why I chose to work in a profession like this. When I made the decision to become an elementary educator, I received an incredible amount of support from colleagues/friends and family; I also received a lot of constructive criticism about this decision. Many people were curious to hear from me after I had spent some time in the field, probably thinking I was out of my mind to leave the exhibit design trade (after years of building my career) to become a low-paid, overworked teacher. Arthur Ellis presented some interesting points in The Teaching Decision, on the possibilities and limitations educators face, or may potentially face. It was interesting to review some of the data presented in this reading, especially the number of reasons educators leave the teaching profession, as gathered from the Gallup/Phi Delta Kappa Poll of Teachers’ Attitudes toward the Public Schools, taken in 1989:

  1. Low teacher salaries
  2. Discipline problems in schools
  3. Low status of teaching as a profession
  4. Students are unmotivated, uninterested in school
  5. Lack of public financial support for education
  6. Parents do not support the teachers
  7. Outstanding teacher performance goes unrewarded
  8. Difficulty of professional advancement
  9. Parents are not interested in children’s progress

What I found humorous about this list is I can reflect on when each reason noted on this poll for leaving the profession has come up in conversation about my career change in the past year. This is not discouraging to me, but reinforces that I made the right decision to teach. Furthermore, the article on Native American Influences, Sharing the Fire: Exploring Our Place and World through Native American Mythology encouraged me to reflect more on my decision. I agree with the concept that “storytelling fosters understanding of experience,” noting that I myself have learned a lot of varied information over the years with a career of storytelling (Scheuerman, Gritter, Schuster, Fisher, 2010). I relate this story-telling idea to a charette process I’ve used with many clients, where I asked them what the “big message” was that they wanted their audience to take with them, the over-arching theme of the exhibit “experience”. This primary message would create a hierarchy of the story topics to be told and their arrangement in the exhibit environment. Visitors would then “experience” these stories through a layered approach, with lectures, readings, videos, games, immersive environments, docents, websites, and other activities. By experiencing different approaches to storytelling, visitors would be further enabled to take some knowledge with them after they left the exhibit.

Although I will probably increase my workload significantly, I’m excited about the notion of educating children at the elementary level, utilizing many of the ideas that have been presented so far in the first couple of weeks of my education at SPU and some of the connections I have made thus far to my previous career. In my previous career, I designed how knowledge was received/revealed, discovered, or constructed and am excited to do the same when I am a certified teacher.

Reference:

Ellis, A., The Teaching Decision. Personal Collection of (Ellis, A.), Seattle Pacific University, Seattle, WA.

Scheuerman, R., Gritter, K., Schuster, C. J., Fisher, G. (May 2010). Sharing the fire: Exploring our place and world through native American mythology. The English Journal, 99:1.

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