Saturday, September 13, 2014

F#26: Furthering My Education

I should be writing a paper for one of my grad classes right now, so if anyone asks, this is serving as a brainstorming/pre-writing/getting the gears moving exercise before I dive back into my analysis of Cowboy Bebop as a Space Western.

The Husband and I are both back in classes; he after a five-year hiatus, myself after a ten-year hiatus.  I finished my MA in Education in 2004, safe in the knowledge that I would never have to enter a classroom again if I did not want to.  I understand the irony of this as a teacher, but once you have a full-time teaching job, it's way harder to devote a lot of brain energy to the classroom...or at least, to the other side of the classroom.

Still, I was ready.  As much as I have disliked many professional development seminars and lectures, I do not dislike learning.  On the contrary, I love to learn.  I love to discuss what I am reading and studying with other people who have read and studied the same thing.  Although I am not part of a book club, I would find it an extremely satisfying experience to be able to talk about a book I have just read with other people, to hear their views and see what struck them.

But what to study?  I had considered going for my doctorate in Education, but the program I wanted (Curriculum and Instruction, a continuation of my MA) does not exist in a doable way in the state I live in.  I could have done online classes, I suppose, but I am old-school (if you'll pardon the pun) and enjoy the face-to-face interaction of classmates and instructor.  I did not want to go for my 6th year, or get another Masters in Educational Leadership, as I don't think I have the temperament for administration.  So I was stuck.

Fortuitously, I was listening to my local NPR station one day (because that's how I roll) and they were interviewing the curator of the Irish Hunger Museum (  I listened with interest as she discussed the placement of objects in the exhibit.  This got me thinking that, obviously, there was a training program for this sort of thing, a degree of some sort that discussed this and other aspects of museum stewardship.

My quest began for a program.  A quick Internet search (thanks, Google) led me to one college in my state that offers such a program.  I looked into the requirements, saw the deadline was approaching, and had to make a choice--to apply or not to apply, that was the question.  In some ways, this was the right time: my husband was also going to be knee-deep in studying, we have no children living with us full-time.  I wouldn't go so far as to say I had mastered teaching, but I did know what I wanted to do for the following school year, and even had a lot of it mapped out.

So, decision made, I began acquiring letters of recommendation, and trying to write an essay about why this was a good fit for me and, more importantly, why the college should want me in their program.  I was a little rusty on that front, but my BFF assured me it was solid, so off it went, with my application fee and a prayer.

As they say, the waiting is the hardest part.  Getting the large envelope in the mail this past June was amazing because I felt, for the first time in awhile, like I was smart.  (Ironically, this is the same institution I decided not to apply to for my undergrad, because my SAT scores were at the low end of their acceptance range and I didn't want to be the dumb kid in class.)  I quickly set about emailing advisers and filling out financial aid paper work, so I could secure my spot.

I am taking two classes this semester.  My husband keeps calling me an overachiever, as I am trying to read ahead, get papers written ahead, and generally be more than on top of all of my work.  As my work year progresses, I won't be able to leave papers at work to be graded; they will need to come home with me and be entered into the system.  So if I can get ahead of it now, so much the better.

I am sure as the semesters wear on, I will be tearing my hair out, staring at textbooks wondering what I have gotten myself into.  But, in a weird way, this is helping me as a teacher.  Not for what would seem obvious, that I am acquiring new knowledge, but that it is putting me in the same sphere as my students; I am reliving those moments of head-scratching when you read something that doesn't make any sense, and you know you have to talk about it with people the next day.  I am considering having my husband video me one evening so my students can see 1. what studying looks like and 2. that I am indeed human.

I am proud of myself for this whirlwind decision.  If all goes as planned, I should be done with my degree by December 2018.  And while I won't be putting Dr. in front of my name, I will know that I have two Masters under my belt, and that's nothing to crinkle my nose at.