The Next Step

As anyone that has read my blog knows, I am in the first couple months of my first year as an assistant principal. My job is challenging, which was a big reason I applied for it in the first place. I am constantly put in to situations where I don’t have answers and need to learn something new. I am also heading out to a large number of PD sessions, or getting involved in division initiatives where I get the chance to learn even more. My introduction to blogging and twitter has opened my eyes to even more. It is a great feeling, sometimes overwhelming, but always exciting, to be learning all the time.

The next step in my progression as an educator I feel is to start to investigate programs for my Master’s degree. I look forward to entering a Master’s program and having the opportunity to develop skills and knowledge in an area that will have a major impact on my career. On the flip side, the process of selecting a program intimidates me. I feel like I get one chance to do this, if kids and a house are in my wife’s and my future, and I don’t want to make the wrong choice.

I believe that I need to decide a number of things that affect my choice, and prioritize them to help with my decision.

1)    I Have To Love It – I have the opportunity to dive into an area of study and immerse myself into the community that focuses on that area. If I am going to do that, I have to love it. I am going to dedicate myself to this endeavor and I want to be excited about every paper, every project, every lecture and every discussion.
2)    I Want Doors To Open – I want my Master’s program to open doors, not close them. I want the possibility of pursuing a Ph. D to be there when I have completed the program. I want the process to open more career doors, not pigeonhole me into an area that one day I might want to move on from.
3)    I Want To Be Able To Apply What I Learn – I want to take what I learn from my program and apply it in a practical way almost immediately. I want to gain skills that I feel confident utilizing and that can help me assist teachers and/or students.  I would like it if the skills were ones I could pass on to other in some capacity as well.
4)    I Want The Program To Help Me Towards My Goal – My dream is to one day educate future or current teachers, be it as a consultant, PD speaker, or professor. Meeting Alec Couros recently made that dream a little daunting, but I still want to pursue it. I want this program to help me provide teachers with skills or strategies to utilize in their every day teaching.

So, why am I blogging about this? Well I realize a large number of people I have connected with on twitter and through my blog have already completed their Master’s and many have completed Ph. Ds. I am looking for advice and maybe some critique on my method of program selection. I am looking for stories of how others selected their programs, I am hoping to hear about how interesting and exciting your program was, and I am looking to hear about how your program changed your career and your life. So I guess what I should say is that this blog post was written for some pretty selfish reasons. I hope some of you out there can offer me some comments, and thanks in advance.

14 thoughts on “The Next Step

  1. Why do you want your masters now? Do you need it with the learning you have access to? I am wondering if the shift in learning is going to change with our own Personal Learning Networks. One is free, the other is expensive. One has self-directed learning, one is paying to be told what to learn.

    I guess the question is, why do you want your masters? Is it a needed job requirement or is it something you really want to explore?

  2. I have been wrestling with this same decision, but I am 52.99 years old, and I am beginning to think the cost outweighs the benefits.

    Getting a Masters is the only way I can get a significant raise, but no program is really grabbing me. I am an English teacher who is also in Special Ed. I’d much rather take courses in both areas than be restricted to one, but that would not pay me more money. This seems incredibly stupid to me.

  3. it seems to me today we have a choice. to pick and choose what we need – when we need it.
    it would save tones of time and money. it would save us.
    it would value/protect our biggest resource – students (including us) – living each day like it matters.

    i’m certainly not suggesting slackers… or no accountability.

    i just finished the mesh by Lisa Gasnky – there’s a got to be a way to make public education – including uni’s – a mesh…

  4. I am 6 weeks into my masters program. Why? Partially for the challenge, in hopes that new doors will open but mostly because I felt I was missing something. I want the research, theoretical, some backbone to why the things I know work, work. I searched for a program that fit, and I am mostly enjoying it. My pln is great and I need to do more to contribute but I also stil felt like something. However, my program has us blogging and building in a lms, all sorts of practical things that are cemeted with a little reading. It works for me but it’s personal so you need what fits you best.

  5. I love learning and choosing what to learn, but sometimes I want clear direction in what I learn by someone (something) who has chosen to design what they believe is the best possible course to become well educated in this one area.
    Perhaps I am a product of my environment, but taking a prescribed course is as enjoyable as directing my own learning, sometimes more so because I tend to be more disciplined and go deeper into what I am learning.

  6. I’m currently working as a teacher-librarian at an international school but I only have parts 1 and 2 of the Ontario Additional Qualifications in Librarianship (there are 3 parts). I’ve been mulling over a Master’s with the hope for two results: 1. that I’d learn useful stuff and 2. that it would make me more competitive during my next job hunt.
    I thought I might be able to swing a full-time MLIS programme in the U.S. if I lived with relatives but when I sat down and crunched the numbers I realized I was dreaming (and that’s with US citizenship). I then looked at online MLIS options but they are still very pricey. Now I’m pondering an online MEd in Teacher-Librarianship offered by the University of Alberta. I have Canadian citizenship too and so the course fees aren’t as exorbitant and I did my B.Ed through the Faculté St-Jean (now Campus St-Jean) there.
    But I’m also exploring the possibility of a year long volunteer teacher-librarian position at the School of St. Jude in Arusha, Tanzania. Not only may it be a stretch financially to do both but the Internet isn’t reliable or fast enough to do online courses.

  7. I studied for my MA through the UK Open University. This worked well forcme for two reasons: first, I could choose from a range if modules to suit both my professional context and future direction if travel – including 60 credits ( out if 180) from a related discipline; the second was that my learning was through on line communities which extended my then small PLN and gave me the appetite for studying for my PhD (ongoing) within a learning community at Lancaster, UK. I have made friends for life and have a close network of peers – not to be missed!

  8. I want to thank everyone for responding, especially so quickly. I want to respond to some of the questions that George posted.

    1) I have always wanted a Master’s and my number one reason is for me. I look forward to returning to a focused effort towards a new educational goal. My return to university, or to an online or distance program offered by a university, is not a matter of if but when for me.

    2) One of my goals, that I may or may not achieve, is the goal of becoming a university or college professor and working with education students. The idea of having a positive impact on future teachers who will be the ones to really bring about any type of education change we look to make happen is very exciting. I would need at least a Master’s degree for that wouldn’t I?

    3) I am also in a place where the money isn’t too much of a worry, and something my wife is very supportive of me doing. I am lucky that way.

    • re: your last comment, yes, you’d need you Master’s Degree in most cases to work with preservice teachers outside of a school-supervisory role. I started my current gig in 1999 when I was a bit more than half-way done my M.Ed (I think I was done all of the coursework and just had the thesis left). However, that was/is rare (I was lucky and interviewed well). I didn’t get my PhD until 2006, however, they strongly advised me to pursue my PhD if I was to acquire a permanent position (which I didn’t get until this past July). It’s a long road, but very worthwhile.

  9. My Master’s program was the best thing to ever happen to me as an educator. Yes, it was a lot of work but I loved it and could not wait to have more conversations with my professors and classmates around education. For me, what made the program so special was professors that challenged the status quo and being part of a cohort program. I did mine through the University of British Columbia and we met as a cohort twice a month for a day. Through the cohort program, we developed the relationships that allowed us to challenge each other and push each other forward.
    Twitter has been an awesome learning experience for me but I believe that without the learning that took place in my Master’s Program, I would not have the confidence to play an active role in education reform. In BC, most dirstricts require you to either have a M.Ed. or be working towards this for admin; the program opened some amazing doors for me.

    • Thanks Chris,

      That connection with your cohort relates heavily to my next blog post, that feeling of connecting with like minded people, the kind of connection you get on a daily basis at University.

      I look forward to being part of that again and I thank you for you post, it was nice to be reminded of that.

  10. Following the notion of working smarter and not harder, I would recommend that you investigate the willingness of potential programs to integrate into your work life. If you have the opportunity to take projects you were going to do for your school anyway and earn credit, that’s a huge bonus! You get the opportunity add a much more thorough research base to your work, produce a much higher quality product given the focus from both your program and your school, and your school benefits too.

  11. I am half-way through the M. of Distance Ed at Athabasca and am enjoying it very much. It has, without a doubt opened doors for me, maybe not in the k-12 admin side of things, but that wasn’t my intention anyways.

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