As our last week here in Galway Ireland continues to fly by, we begin to wrap up our first year in the Masters in Educational Technology Program (can you believe it?!). Reflecting back on where I began and where I am now is just incredible. I have grown so much professional and personally, and it is all thanks to the people I am surrounded and encouraged by.
This past weekend, I celebrated my 24th birthday in Galway. It was tough celebrating away from home—I really missed having my family around…and the Buffalo wings 🙂 However, my new MAET friends here in Galway were so thoughtful and made my birthday very special. In just four short weeks we have grown so close and that is why I am so thankful for this experience. I know I am a little biased (MSU alumni…) but this program is unlike any other. The ability to collaborate together inside and outside of class for four weeks straight provides endless opportunities for creative thinking and support. Additionally, we all get to explore a new country together and have a lot of laughs along the way. It will be a long year until I get to be back here with my friends next summer!
Aside from the birthday fun, we had a lot of awesome activities happening in class. On Friday, all of the program instructors and members got together for “Mock Interviews.” The purpose of the interviews were to educate us about what interviewing committees look for (and do not look for) in a candidate. Each member of the MAET program submitted an application for one of the positions posted–(meaning we had to re-configure our cover letters and resumes to better fit the job we were applying for). This was an eye opening experience for me. After one short year in the classroom, the information I had on my resume was relatively outdated–and I had this resume on my website (cringe). It was refreshing to add my new experiences to my resume and see how much I had grown over the course of my first year in the classroom. Lesson learned: continuously update your resume!
Three very brave year three students were interviewed by instructors and fellow peers for educational technology positions–and they did fantastic considering the circumstances. It made me think about the experiences I have had with interviewing (good and bad). It also made me think about how much more knowledge and experience I will be able to present at future interviews. The most powerful and meaningful message I took away from the interview was this (from Dr. Carey Roseth): Interview committees will not necessarily remember each and every word you said–but they will remember how you made them feel. It is so imperative to be genuine during interviews and be YOU. The first few interviews I ever went to were nothing to write home about–and I believe it was because I was trying to answer questions based on what the interview committee wanted to hear–rather than answering as myself. A major part of teaching is being personable-so let your personality shine!
More interview/presentation practice was provided on Monday when the year ones hosted our very own Maker Faire! This was our chance to share and receive feedback about our Maker Projects that we have been working so hard on. Before the Maker Faire, everyone presented his or her projects to our class. I was blown away at how amazing each idea and project was–and no project was the same. There is a reason for that: our professors Chris and Alison let us pick any project of our choice and let us pick our own challenge.
When I think about my own teaching practice, I think about how much more engaged my students are when I combine open ended projects with choice. It is an authentic way to implement your students lives outside of school. This was probably the most engaged I have ever been for a project that was “course work” and it is because I was able to choose my own project, manipulate every aspect of it and make it realistic to my own classroom. I cannot wait to take back to school what I have created and see it unfold in my classroom!
When it was time for the year 1 Maker Faire, we were all pretty excited and nervous to share. It was a relief and a confidence booster to hear how much the other members of our program enjoyed our projects. They also offered a lot of feedback and other resources we might find useful. Specifically to my project, someone suggested looking at the website, Kickstarter, for other Maker ideas. Another person suggested looking at the Makey Makey Journey Challenge as an activity to complete after this project. These are incredibly useful resources I had not come across yet! The Maker Faire helped me to reflect one my project and make some meaningful changes. I would say it was a success!
It has been an amazing last week (end) in Galway and the MAET program has not disappointed. Although I am sad to leave all of these amazing people, year 1 of the program and the beautiful country of Ireland, I am beyond excited to take my experiences back to my classroom setting.