Next week I move back to Lethbridge for our second of three summer class sessions. We officially have one full year of our program behind us with two years still ahead. It seems like just yesterday we were starting this program but it is also hard to imagine a time when I wasn't balancing masters courses on top of everything else.
When I started this program I was expecting to get something very different out of it from what I feel I'm getting out of it. I took the program to grow my knowledge related to inclusive education. I was hoping they would hand me some magic approach or formula or list of things to do that would make inclusion 'work'.
This program has impacted me - personally and professionally. There have been many other things going on at the same time as this program and I can't really put my finger on which individual thing has had the most impact because I think it is is the interplay between all these factors that creates the impact. Take one part out and it would be a different impact. But I do believe that my masters program has one of the larger impacts. Not because of the content that I'm learning though. I want to try to put it in words before I move in to year two in a couple of days.
I find it hard to recall specific content from many of the courses that I've taken as it sort of just became a part of the way that I think. I think differently about learning as a result of even just the base level of understanding of how the brain works that I have gained through our neurology classes. I think differently about inclusion, learning, leadership...etc. as a result of the course we took last fall on UDL and differentiated learning. Perhaps the course that had the most profound impact on me though has been the course on research methodology that I took this past semester. I have a deeper understanding of the interplay between research and practice and a deeper respect for the practitioner research that is necessary in the area in the are of inclusive education. I understand "rigor" differently then I did before as my thoughts about research were pretty narrow and clinical. Although we didn't explicitly talk about "Living Theory Research" taking this course was a catapult in to finding out more about this. It has made me rethink weather I want to go thesis route in this program. This research class has also made me look back at the things I so often do as "experiments" and realize the elements in action research that are already there. Finally the combination of all the courses to this point has made me want to learn more and to find others who want to engage in that process. It has ignited a spark that was just not there before.
This masters program could not have happened at a better time as we were already in the process of changing practice towards being more inclusive for my students and this program, along with participation in the Literacy for All project and being IEPT pilot school have all come together at the right time.
This summer I will be making a decision as to weather I will continue with the program as is or if I will be going thesis route (which will mean I will not be doing some of the remaining classes). With everything that is going on in my job right now I am in a great place to do practitioner research - but I'm also realizing how vulnerable one must become to this type of research in a field that is controversial.
Lots of decisions to make this summer.