Reflection

Education and Leadership

Core Values
Personal Philosophy
Passion
Conceptual Framework
Leadership
Professional Assessment

Core Values

Learning is a basic human need
People will learn what they believe is relevant and meaningful
I rely on basic goodness in working with others
I believe all information is useful
I trust our ability to learn from each other through any medium

Personal History and Philosophy
My own education began, growing up with a single parent on the west side of NY City. Hell’s Kitchen was rough by most standards and my mother made diligent efforts to enrich my education beyond our neighborhood. One of her most “creative” ideas was to use her work address near the United Nations, to enroll me into one of the best public schools in Manhattan. There, I excelled academically and gained access to information, friendships, and opportunities beyond most poor children in NY. In junior high, I continued at a neighborhood school as a minority student. This experience offered unique opportunities to experience diversity, and I developed an appreciation of street smarts, and the richness of different cultural backgrounds.

In 1971 I received a scholarship to a boarding school in Maine that was in the Open School / Summerhill genre, based on a philosophy that children left to their own devices will follow their passion and interest. It was the best and worst of that era’s idealism, and experimentation with community based, experiential education. My four years there left me with a respect for the need of a disciplined environment, as well as appreciation of the gift of unscheduled time, and the rewards of independent learning. Voracious reading, writing, and introspection remained a lifelong trait, and was my main tool, through higher education.

At sixteen, I graduated High School, and returned to NY. In the city I began working in a variety of jobs, which were good motivation for entering college. Wanting to return to Maine, and enjoying writing, I enrolled in the University of Maine.

Having to put myself through college allowed me to explore several different professions, while working in a variety of jobs. I have always felt it was important to experience a field of study, and so became a library assistant for one year, a preschool teachers aid for 2 years, and a family service worker for 4 years, while I concurrently studied English, and then social work. During the summers I worked and repaired wooden sailboats, while sailing off the coast of Maine.

In 1980, getting burned out on the helping profession (having mostly worked with troubled welfare mothers, neglected children, juvenile restitution, and abused women) I completely changed course and spent a summer on an archaeological dig, followed by a year as a lab tech examining soil samples from the excavation at the University of Maine. Discovering a passion for Archaeology and Geology, I transferred to the University of Colorado’s Geology Dept just in time for the bottom to drop out of the oil market. I finished my degree, while working in archaeology, getting married and raising two children.

In 1994, I began to work at Horizon's Alternative School as a Community Liaison, while teaching classes, writing grants, and designing curriculum to match program objectives and funding sources. This work inspired further research in education, and combined with a growing interest in technology, led me to begin studies in the Masters Program at the University of Colorado, Denver in Information Learning Technologies.

While in graduate school, I also worked at the Center for Innovations in Teaching and Technologies for the past one and a half years, as a paid intern. This internship, combined with my coursework, gave me the experience, confidence, and skills to pursue a career in Instructional Design. I have continued in the Information Learning Technologies Department, as an intern, further developing the ILT Portal, and researching sources to enhance an existing online course. This experience has been invaluable for exploring work in higher education.

Passion
Writing about my participation and observation of education over the years, is important to explain my passion for learning, both generally and personally. Being on the receiving end, and observing a variety of educational philosophies, and changes over time has created appreciations for how people learn, teach, survive, fail, and flourish in different learning environments. I feel passionate about working with organizations to make them functional, respectful, lively communities in which people can work and learn from each other to enhance the product an organization creates.

When I apply these experiences to my own learning, teaching, and work with others I feel the values I most rely on are an interest and appreciation for the unique backgrounds, experiences, and learning styles of others. While acknowledging the richness of cultural diversity, and the destructiveness of stereotypes and prejudice ( perhaps due to my own background) I make few assumptions based on skin color, or cutural background. Appreciating that we are all unique individuals, I have learned from experience that you can never assume anything about another till you hear his, or her story. This sharing takes time, effort, and opportunity. My teaching methodologies include a sense of humor, dialogue, curiosity, authenticity, and the discipline to research and articulate the relevance of the material.

Conceptual Framework
I appreciate most philosophies of education and experienced that people have unique learning needs and styles at different times in their lives. Learning happens constantly throughout our lives, and credentials, profession, or income, does not necessarily reflect intelligence or success. A constructivist by nature, I believe deeper learning takes place through experience, practice, and reflection of material. Therefore, I also use tools of behaviorism to motivate others to practice learned information.

My educational philosophy has been inspired by Dr. Glasser’s work in identifying the choices people make in search of what they value in this world. I think people’s basic needs for learning, power, fun, relationship, and accomplishment are healthy, and if an instructor can show the relevance of material most will choose to learn.

Leadership
I value the vision of Margaret Wheatley’s writing on leadership and chaos theory, and am inspired by her recognition of the richness of developing learning communities. Working with technology and e-learning, has made me a stronger believer in the need to build relationships and community to enhance distance education. I see technology as another challenging method for sharing information, creating change, and communicating with others. Different than face to face learning, new technology mediums offer undiscovered potential, especially in areas of human growth and development, and I see this area as my passion in future research and work.

Professional Assessment
As an Instructional designer, I create courses using technology as a medium to transfer knowledge, and enhance learning, via usable attractive interface design, clear communication, and interactive innovation. To enhance my technology skills I continue to study graphic design, information architecture, Photoshop, and PHP. My experience is that good instructors and designers are opportunistic, take risks, and notice what does, and doesn’t work to enhance learning. The most important strategy I use is observation skills and natural inquiry, to develop a sense of the audience, finding the significant commonalities through which to communicate with learners. This research becomes increasingly crucial, the more you are removed from your user.

Summation
In conclusion the best description of my path and passion is as a life long learner. I am drawn to education and technology because there are so many things to learn in these fields, and learning makes my life interesting and meaningful. Looking back, my varied educational experience has given me opportunities to learn in a variety of ways, and so in turn this is what I bring to designing face-to-face, and online instruction.

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