Six Credits Shy

As soon as I sat down for the session at an administrator conference, I knew I was going to be disappointed. The PowerPoint was all words and no visuals. The presenter, although a knowledgeable educator, informed everyone that he was going to “talk to us” about his experiences. There was no website or handouts in which to access the information being presented, either at that time or in the future. Within five minutes, I had left the session. The only thing I found out was the wireless in that room was pretty spotty.

I bring this up because I am undecided about going back to graduate school. I have been six credits shy of my Director of Instruction license for over a year now. There is nothing holding me back, except the concern that I will have the same experience as I did at the conference. Another textbook published by Pearson to read, providing a general overview of everything. A prescribed schedule that is not conducive with my personal and professional calendar. Slideshow upon slideshow to sit through, something that I could easily read online prior to the class on my own time. I think I can empathize a little with students in today’s world. Too many of them are 21st century learners still stuck in a 20th century learning environment.

Since becoming a connected educator last October, I feel like I have become spoiled. I can direct my own learning based on my interests and my current needs. If I have a question, I don’t have to wait until the next class to try and get it answered. Information can be accessed at a moment’s notice in resources that take a specific topic to a deeper understanding. This way of learning is in stark contrast to digging around in a textbook that is a mile wide and an inch deep. Yes, there will be times where I need to buckle down and read what is handed to me. At the same time, I can enhance these assignments by tapping into my personal learning network.

For your students lucky enough to have been immersed in instruction that is problem- and interest-based, that allows for direction of one’s own learning using the best tools available, how would they react if you told them tomorrow that you were going back to lecturing and the one-size-fits-all method of teaching?  It is not that I believe I have little to learn within the traditional method anymore. The university I attended had great professors who brought a wealth of experience to discussions. I just feel like the genie has been let out of the bottle and it is not going back in, even if I wanted it to.

Author: Matt Renwick

Matt Renwick is an 18-year public educator who began as a 5th and 6th-grade teacher in Rudolph, WI. He now serves as an elementary principal for the Mineral Point Unified School District, also in Wisconsin (http://mineralpointschools.org/). He also teaches online graduate courses in curriculum design and instructional leadership for the University of Wisconsin-Superior. Matt tweets @ReadByExample and writes for ASCD (www.ascd.org) and Lead Literacy (www.leadliteracy.com).

2 thoughts on “Six Credits Shy”

  1. Amen. I hear you, and have gone through the same questions myself. As I prepare to put together my presentation for METC in February, I have to make sure that I treat the adults there the same way I would teach my students. Relevancy, Rigor, about 15-20 minutes at each activity (where they are physically and mentally engaged, etc.) Great blog!

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    1. Thanks Matt. I am revisiting this post again – I just finished teaching a Web 2.0 course for teachers. It was based on the book The Connected Educator by Nussbaum-Beach and Hall. Like you, I made sure to keep my audience engaged and active throughout each session. If I started to see yawning (this course took place in the evening, after a full day of instruction), I quickly altered my instruction to sustain the focus.

      By the way, how did the presentation go?

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