As I sit down to write my final program reflection, I’m not sure where to start. I’ve been thinking about how to organize my reflection on and off for a few days and haven’t been able to come up with anything – so this blog is a stream of consciousness in the order it came to me. I have gotten more than I ever expected out of this program not only in terms of knowledge but also skills, personal growth and friendships. The past two and half years of classes and homework have been completely worth the time and effort.
We had a dialogue this fall in the organization learning course about reflection on concrete experience. This got me thinking back two years ago to my ADLT 601 Adult Learner course and the Kolb Learning style inventory. I scored heavily in the accommodating quadrant, anchored by active experimentation and concrete experience. Since that time I find myself reflecting more and maybe I did it before but didn’t realize I was doing it. The blogging and mirroring assignments forced me to reflect on experiences and put those into writing. I have found this to be beneficial because I find myself consciously reflecting more often then before.
I’ve had too many “AHA” moments in this program to even try to quantify. As far as knowledge goes – I now know the names and terms of things going on around/within me. Like when I read Nancy Dixon’s theoretical framework of individual learning in The Organizational Learning Cycle. This chapter describes how adults learn and retain information by building relationships between the different pieces of information like a big web in their minds.
Another AHA moment was when I interviewed my dad for my adult development course. I learned about my dad’s life and the decisions he made and why he made them. It was a different kind of AHA moment – more of an emotional understanding. It helped strengthen my relationship with my dad. I probably would not have come to this understanding had I not interviewed him for that class.
The program has also given me a better understanding of myself, how I learn, how I interact, and my impact on others. The skills I have learned, including: facilitation, consulting, filling the helping role, delivering feedback, questioning, listening, and I’m sure there are others – these are invaluable in my growth and professional development. I have gained the confidence to conduct program planning and execute those plans. I am very proud to note the program I designed for the program planning course was implemented. I also now have the confidence to conduct sessions that I have planned – without the use of powerpoint.
I have learned how to learn from and appreciate the experience of others. When I first started the program I was unsure of the value of my contributions to the class due to my limited work experience in such a specialized field. I have learned at least one thing probably from every single person in each of my classes. The diversity of experience and background in this program is exceptional. I enjoyed my instructional strategies class which was composed of half graduate nursing students and half adult learning students. It was interesting given the difference in background and careers that everyone in the class was an educator in some way.
Prior to the adults with disabilities course I had no exposure to this topic. That course made me aware of the number of people working, learning, coping, and succeeding with a learning disability. For me, learning about LD removed the stigma and I no longer fear it. Learning about the resources available and the course topics in general made me more open minded and I talk about LD with the resident trainees in my program. It’s not anything anyone should be ashamed of. Dr. Gerber’s passion for the topic was contagious. He is a true star and really got me excited about my graduate program.
All of the professors in the program have been exceptional. I found Jean Fleming’s feedback in the program planning course to be invaluable when I implemented the program. Dr. Carter never ceases to amaze me in her dedication to her students and the program, and in sharing all of her knowledge and experience. And no, I’m not sucking up because she is reading this. Dr. Muth taught my adult learner course and I learned how to deal with uncertainty and that in graduate school, the professor expects you to interpret the instructions – hey you are smart enough. I thoroughly enjoyed Dr. Graham’s style for teaching adult development.
The first course I took in the program was research methods. I am glad that I got it out of the way early on in the program. I was not interested in the topic at the time but have since started working on research projects at work and the coursework was beneficial. I feel I would have had a better experience if I had taken the course from a professor in the SOE rather than a PhD student.
One of my favorite courses was groups and teams. The Stone Monkeys broke the trend of bad group experiences I had in undergrad. The Stone Monkeys was a very diverse group in background but our personalities clicked. Not only did we get the work done but we had fun doing it.
Another highlight of the program for me was the Capstone final client meeting. My group, Alternative Solutions struggled throughout the semester and had trouble obtaining what we thought was data. Until we had an AHA moment prodded by Dr. Carter that we had data, it didn’t look like what we thought it would but it was data, and that the client was managing us like they managed their problem. The final meeting with the client to deliver our findings and recommendations exemplified everything we had learned in the program. We utilized questioning so that the client would recognize what we did and develop possible solutions. It was an amazing dialogue – our group had “flow” and all with no practice.
I’ve learned how to use wikis to collaborate – where were these when I was in undergrad writing group papers? I have also learned how to blog. I must admit, in the beginning when blogs were introduced into the program I did not find the blog valuable and approached it as an assignment. I have since learned the value of the blog as a reflective tool and it has helped me to learn to reflect.
I have had the opportunity to develop friendships with my classmates and plan to continue spending time with them socially after we graduate. I did not expect to cultivate friendships but I am thankful that I did. A support network was formed and it was helpful to always have at least one person to ask “so how is this assignment going for you? Are you struggling with this? What do you think?”
Two more highlights in the program were teleconferences with Marvin Weisbord and Jane Vella. I was amazed by the generosity of the authors in taking the time to speak with us. It added depth and understanding to their written ideas to be able to speak with them in person and hear their perspectives.
When I began the program I had planned to stay in my current position, but with all of the knowledge/skills I have developed I want to move into a position where I can fully utilize what I have learned. After much reflection and thought, at this time I have decided to stay in higher education, I would like to find a position in student affairs. I have had the opportunity to implement programs based on what I’ve learned in this program at work and have seen the benefits and the residents learn, which is truly rewarding.
I’ve decided to compete in a sprint triathlon (300m swim, 12 mile bike, 3 mile run) in May 2010 – I will need something to do after work now that I’m done with classes and I’ve made it through this program – I can do anything! I will never stop learning and building on what I have learned here – and someday I will go back for my EdD.