Choosing one’s path is a difficult thing, at least when it comes to me and my own path. It’s not foreign to my experience to suggest that it be easier to lead others than your own self.
Choosing a Next Step
I had a difficult time choosing the right doctorate program for myself. Choosing a program involves weighing many elements, including the ability to balance work and study, choosing a traditional (face to face) style program vs. online, the quality of the program and professors, the area of study, and other factors about my life at the time. I chose VCU for some very pragmatic reasons, but also because I was attracted to the concept of leadership. While I know one of the primary goals for graduates of the program is to assume positions in school divisions as superintendents, I was less-attracted to a new possible job than honing my skills towards becoming a stronger leader. I’ve felt a natural affinity towards leadership, and have chosen to exercise this through writing and speaking in my field of instructional technology. Leadership is what attracted me earlier in my career to study conducting.
I was not especially happy to go back to school (again), but I know the experience from this doctoral program will add to my professional experience and prepare me for greater challenges than I’ve yet to face in the profession of education. I have the support from home to go through this experience, and (thus far) I’ve enjoyed immensely the interactions with my colleagues-in-arms. I’ve learned a lot about the field in the past year (March, 2012) from learning alongside the other educational leaders in this program.
Short Term Goals
I have three main short-term professional/learning goals: improving the lives of students and educators by empowering them to better-use the Internet to help them answers questions big/small, to improve my own facility with research, and especially quantitative research (which frankly scares me more), and to find opportunities for creative interactions with others in my field towards professional development or leadership activities.
My main driving focus of my job today–and likely jobs I take in the future–will be maximizing the teaching and learning experiences we have in schools. I know the advent of the Internet has changed our society forever, and I don’t think we’ve yet fully figured-out how to maximize this protean resource. I have a concept of infoseeking fluency that I have begun to develop in practice. It’s a model for how we organize, search for, and make use of information in digital form. In or outside the confines of our doctoral program, I’d like to further explore these ideas.
I’d also like to understand better the art and science of research. I know I’m being led through the path as part of this program, and I’m anxious to learn from those experiences. I understand quantitative vs. qualitative types of research. I’d like to strengthen my skills with statistical analysis, data collection, and learning about what kinds of data can inform or answer research questions.
I’d also like opportunities to work with others in fun, creative, right-brained kind of ways. The outcome? Either for our own professional development, or the development of my/their leadership skills. One example our group already attempted in the Spring EDLP 705 class by producing a movie. In full disclosure, when I found our professor discouraged us from taking on the film project as our “Option B” in the class, I was happy to let it go and fulfill the exact requirements in producing a “play” version of our ethical scenario. But I also saw at least some of my colleagues were crestfallen. Like me, they wanted this intensive, creative experience. I can’t say why, but I am so glad we took it on. I want more experiences like this – both in and outside of the program. It speaks to my nature and learning style. See the fruits of our labor here.
Long Term Goals
My long-term goals need to ultimately be supported by those short-term goals. Outside of this program, I hope to relocate to another part of the country at some point. I’d like to live in a more urban environment, to take advantage of cultural and artistic opportunities that present themselves in larger cities. I want to be happy (who doesn’t?) but that means I want to work doing something I really enjoy doing. In terms of employment, I’m looking for a challenge where I can be:
- a systems-thinker or designer,
- the support of caring, empathetic professionals,
- empowered with technology,
- and have the time – to reflect on self- and organizational-improvement.
I hope to refine my thinking on long-term goals as I continue in this program. The more experiences I have will help me hone my focus.