M.Ed. CAPSTONE: Documenting and Reflecting Upon My Journey

Program Goals:
1. Articulate an advanced and integrated conceptual understanding of the relationship between theory, practice, and reflection.

4. Make connections among social, personal and community responsibilities and intellectual life in ways that advance knowledge in the area of education.

“With 21st century skills, students will be prepared to think, learn, work, solve problems, communicate, collaborate, and contribute effectively throughout their lives.”
(Bellanca and Brandt, 2010, p. xx)

"Transformational leaders who collectively develop and share a clear vision may boost followers' innovativeness by serving as role models in the development and implementation of innovations, clarifying challenges for the school's future and the importance of developing new knowledge and practice, pointing out opportunities for school improvement through innovation, and motivating team members by envisioning an attractive future for the school."
(Moolenear et al., 2010, p. 629)

What are my strengths? What are my areas for potential growth? 
During EU 514: Leadership in Education, I was introduced to the Ontario Leadership Framework (OLF) and was challenged to consider questions such as these. I began collecting artifacts from my professional practice that match with practices outlined in the OLF. The process of examining the framework was not an easy one, but provided me with a valuable purpose for reflection. I was validated by recognizing myself reflected in some of the practices outlined in the OLF and felt an inward calling to further my development as a leader. Within my school I began offering professional development opportunities in the area of technology integration (TECH PD @ SJP) and became involved in the 21st Century Blueprint working group with the WCDSB to further my experiences as an educational leader. Reflecting upon my growth as an educator and as a leader has very much been a part of my journey.

How best can I share my journey with others? 
Thinking about the presentation, Culture, Collaboration, and Change, I developed with Laurier cohort members I was drawn to the notion of collaborative learning cultures and how to effectively elicit change. Collaborative learning does not just happen in person, but also through the digital world of social media. I frequently visit blogs such as Edutopia through Google+ and Twitter and decided to begin putting my own thinking out there. This led me to create Mindful Ed - my own digital space for connection and reflection. This artifact is important to me for a number of reasons, all of which link to program goals.

How does my evolving theoretical understanding impact student learning? Through Mindful Ed, I am able to think about my practices as a primary educator and link these practices to my personal theoretical framework. An example of this is a blog I wrote on blended learning in 2014 which describes a learning task where students were gathering research about countries around the world and organizing information using Google Slides. As they were creating their presentations, I used the comment feature and noted in my post, “What really amazed me was the ability to use the comment feature to provide immediate feedback that was relevant and purposeful for the students.” I am currently writing a blog post about our classroom experiences using Google Hangout to connect with classroom in different places around the world. The content remains the same (Grade 2 Global Communities), however method of delivery based on changing pedagogy and knowledge of digital tools to support this pedagogy has evolved. This once again highlights that it is not about the tool, but the learning experiences enabled by the use of technology. Utilizing digital tools to facilitate student learning was a central tenant of EU 530 where I developed an understanding of the theory of technology of integration that has very much informed my practice. In EU 530 I read articles and texts about the development of 21st century skills and frameworks to support technology integration, causing me to rethink my pedagogy. Miyake (2007) states that “The other reason comes from the design requirements for collaborative learning, which call for making thinking visible, sharable, reflectable, and modifiable by the participating learners” (2007, p. 249). This provides evidence to support my fulfillment of Program Goal 1 to develop a conceptual understanding of the relationship between theory, practice, and reflection.

Mindful Ed is a space where I am able to share new insights, developed through my reflection on theory and practice, with other educators. I have added many of my reflections to the WCDSB Google+ community in order to facilitate discussion on best practice in education. In much the same way, I am challenged by other educators who share their experiences with me through digital communities. The process of adding to my blog is very much a part of my current journey as an educator as I integrate new understandings into my practice, and attempt to articulate this for others. This demonstrates my fulfillment of Program Goal 4 to make connections that advance knowledge in the area of education.

Mindful Ed began as a way for me to collect and organize artifacts that reflect practices of the OLF and evolved to become a digital space for reflection, connection, and communication. I am most proud of this artifact as it has challenged and excited me the most. It illustrates the iterative nature of my journey.


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