I cannot believe I am writing my end of program reflective essay. I have learned so much over these past 2 years, not only about how adults learn, change strategies, and action learning but also about myself. What I found so exciting about this program is that we would learn a concept or theory and then watch that concept and theory come alive in a real world situation. So here I am on my last Sunday morning as a student with my cup of coffee and the dogs all walked and laying on the bed as I am writing my reflections about the program. I did not want to write about in this class I learned about this theory, in that class I learned about that intervention. Therefore, I thought I would talk about some of the take-aways that I learned. Although, I have a number of other take-aways from each class, I wanted to point out the highlights as to how I can apply what I learned in this program.
My first recollection of VCU was actually coming onto the Monroe Park campus for my first appointment with Dr. Carter. Talk about an artifact! As I was slowly driving through campus trying not to hit students, looking for Oliver Hall, and all becoming very intimidated about the entire campus environment. I was thinking that in the past my intimidatation would have overpowered me and I would have cancelled my appointment. After I met Dr. Carter and she was explaining the mechanics of the program, I felt the intimidation building. I wanted to ask myself “Can I do this? Do I actually think I can complete a master’s degree?” Although the intimidation was there, there was even a more powerful force that was overcoming the intimidation. That force was determination. Now, I have come to the realization that my applying to the program was bigger than my intimidation of the program. It was “you can do this Pam.” Even when I admitted on provisional because of my writing sample, the determination outweighed the intimidation. Now, I know that I can write, but I rush and I have to let my writings “marinate” before I can call it a finished product.
As I entered my first class in Adult Learning with Dr. Muth, I thought now thats a true professor. He reminded me of one of those professors at Antioch who would walk around the campus protesting for some cause. In Adult Learning we used Capella’s book on adult learning, and a whole new world opened up for me regarding about how adults learn through new lenses. That was very profound to me. I began to look at different concepts with new lenses. An example of this was my constant confrontation with my manager. He is not a people person, and wants little interaction as possible. This used to really irritate me, but when I looked at our relationship with a different way, I realized he is not going to change, so I had to change.
Dr. Gerber’s class was also a very interesting class. He is so cute, because he refuses to come into the 21st century. I remember Erica Enge’s comment about how afraid she was that one of his tapes would break. I wonder if he would be willing to have them converted to CD or podcast, probably not. One of the most interesting concepts I learned in his class is that learning disabilities covers a huge spectrum of conditions. I was really amazed that some people who have problems processing information actually may have a learning disability. A very good friend of mine who was my classmate as an undergraduate, realized she had a learning disability. She came to that realization when she had her youngest son was tested. This revelation allowed me to look at matters involving difficulty with people with new lenses. Another good friend of mine was having problems with one of her co-workers who would not answer emails, or deal with certain situations that had a direct on my friend’s department, such as not handling shipping problems. When I first suggested that maybe if could be an ESL problem, she said no because he has lived in this country for years. Later, my friend came to me and stated that her co-worker could have a problem with writing emails and giving directions, because my friend looked at her co-worker through diffrent lenses, and started to ask herself questions. I believe by suggesting to my friend to approaching this matter in a new way. I suggested that the problem may be that her co-worker may have a problem of processing information because of his ESL. Eventually my friend and her co-worker had a opened a dialogue about their situation and now are moving in a positive direction.
Dr. Abrams class, the dreaded EDUS 660, I was thinking what did I learn out of this class about myself that I can use as a take-away. I heard so many things about this class, who not to take it from, take an easy class with the this class, don’t take it in the summer. I learned that when you are faced with something you don’t want to face, is when you must try face it and face it head it on using all the resources and courage you can muster. I was intimidated by doing quantitive research, probably from a fear of statistics. Also, Dr. Abrams class was an eclectic class with students from a variety of programs, so it didn’t “gell” like my other classes. I learned you have to put aside you biases as well as your fears and try to get the most that you can out of the situation. I also learned from Dr. Abrams’ class that it is okay to have setbacks and start over again because it is a part of the learning process. I had to changed my focus on my last project and with Dr. Abrams help, I was able to create a successful product. This class reminded me of the fact that I cannot swim, although I have taken a number of swimming classes over the years. The reason why I haven’t learned is because I am afraid of deep water and even though I know you can tread water to stay afloat, I am still afraid. I now realize that maybe instead of taking classes with others, maybe I should have taken private lessons to concentrate on how to tread in deep water. By using what I learned in Dr. Abrams’ class, I hope to put swimming lessons on my “bucket list”. I don’t know how I got an A out of that class.
I always learned something out of all the classes that I had with Dr. Carter. Change Strategies, Groups and Teams, and Capstone. The Capstone was very challenging but also very good. What I learned my Groups and Teams class, I was able to use in the Capstone. My Groups and Teams class has some major challenges mainly with the personalities. Although it was frusturating during the class, it was beneficial because it showed me that working in groups and teams, you must face unexpected challenges. The Capstone was a major learning experience. We also experienced some challenges, but this time we used what we learned and were able to overcome our challenges by “naming the elephant in the room.” Its not only the big things that you learn that are important, but also the little things. One of the little things that I learned from Dr. Carter that had a major impact on me was during our presentation to the Read Center. Dr. Carter instructed Buddy Murr to go in front of the group and and place a “pause” in the presentation, in order to have the group to process the presentation up to that point. That very simple point made me realize that it is important to allow people to validate and decipher the information instead of throwing it out all at once. I also learned to link what you have learned to your presentations. For example in our presentation on Johnsonville Foods in Org Learning, we incorporated Kurt Lewin’ s freezing, unfreezing into our presentation. I learned in Dr. Garland’s Instructional Strategies class that evaluation can be as simple as answering one question. I will miss this program, I will miss the interactions, my classmates, and I will even miss the challenges.
Last night I was having a telephone conversation with my mother who asked me what I was having for Sunday dinner. I told her probably bacon and eggs. She replied “for Sunday dinner?” I told her that sometimes we have to look at things with a different lens, even what we have for Sunday dinner.
Finally, I feel I have grown from this program. The experiences I have learned over the past two years will be coupled with other experiences to set the groundwork for whatever my future endeavours I may pursue.