Goals and Destinations
Without goals and visions, life quickly passes us by. Goals drive our future and push one to unbelievable limits. When enrolling in the graduate program through Michigan State University, I had distinct goals and expectations for my professional growth. Namely, I wrote that "my two main goals are to be open and experimental when teaching mathematics and incorporate up-to-date technology in the classroom."
Furthermore, my passion for learning was rooted in the ability to conduct research within my classroom, to find strategies that provide optimal student success rates. When I originally applied for the graduate program through Michigan State University, my goals were "simple." I envisioned that the graduate program would "force me to change my way of teaching, constantly think about new research and even conduct my own research." But there was still a lack of clarity in my mind of what exactly "research" entails. How should one conduct it? When the results are in, what should I do next? Where or who should I turn to for the latest and greatest strategies within the educational profession? Although my goals were clear when I originally began graduate school, the manner in which I would achieve those goals were foggy to say the least. This program provided me the clarity necessary to meet and achieve my goals.
Within Michigan State University's demanding graduate program, I had the opportunity to conduct several different research topics within my own classroom. This research ranged from strategies to achieving higher assessment scores, to motivating students to learn the content at hand, to managing challenging students. If we are expected to prepare 21st century learners for research and development then the research and development must begin within ourselves first! In an ever-changing society, we are left we no choice but to become life-long learners and make the commitment to bettering our students and ourselves.
Another valuable lesson learned from my original goal was the purpose of technology in the classroom. My original vision for technology was rooted strictly in instrumental thinking. I simply felt the need to incorporate technology for the sake of using technology. Rather, technology must be used with a specific vision in mind, like to increase student growth or motivation in the classroom. This vision became much more realistic for me throughout the entire graduate program through MSU. Technology serves as a vital tool to teaching, much like a paintbrush serves as a vital tool to an artist. We must utilize the tools provided to us, in order to meet the ultimate goal of success and achievement.
So while Michigan State worked to provide clarity to achieving my goal, I recognize my goal will never be achieved. I may be open to experimenting and researching within my profession, but that research will constantly change. If we are expected to prepare students for an ever-changing society, we as teachers must be prepared to continuously change. Designing research effectively helps teachers and educators strive to meet the need of every child, academically, socially, behaviorally and even technologically. How far is far enough? When is our job "finished?" In my opinion, we can never provide enough for children, which is why I recognize that I will never reach my "destination." I will never stop searching for the best ways to teach my students mathematics, using the latest technology and researched strategies, in order to fully meet their individual needs.
"Arriving at one goal is the starting point to another."