And I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
As a shepherd leader, I know that my journey as a Masters student in ETAD will stay with me forever. Coming to the end of my journey, I feel a twinge of sadness and loss. What will I fill my time with, if not reading textbooks, participating in discussions and writing papers? But I know that the knowledge and experiences I have gained have solidified and validated my educational practice. They will form a backbone in my future decisions and colour the path that I pursue.
I think of Oprah, who says “when you know better, you do better.” Entering my ETAD program, I had my own conceptions, my own methodology, and my own beliefs. I am amazed, reflecting back on my learning, to see how far I have come personally in less than two years. I have gained so much, and in large part due to the online community I am a part of. Just the other night, in presenting our research proposals for a Research in Education course, there were three people, including myself, from my division here in Calgary. How interesting it was to discuss their ideas with them, people in my own division, who I have never met in real life and who I may never have come across professionally. We now have a connectedness based in our scholarly work together. I will definitely seek them out the next chance I get.
McCormick & Davenport talk about a shepherd leader who fosters loyalty. I can’t help but feel that I will be loyal to the Educational Technology and Design program at the University of Saskatchewan. The program met my needs in a profound way, and brought so much more into my professional understanding than I imagined.
This exercise of reflection on my graduate experience and using it to look to the future has been a very worthwhile experience. Looking at the whole of what I learned, a few themes pop out. Firstly, I gained a real appreciation for the rigors of academic study. Relying on the structures that exist help me to understand and frame my decisions and practice. Second, I learned about leadership in a roundabout sort of way. We all had our role to play in the leadership within our courses. With the professors, each had a unique way of guiding us through our studies. As an adult learner, I could pick out what I liked and what I didn’t and how I could use these observations in finding my own leadership path. The shepherd leader concept was also evident in the leadership of my colleagues. In each online community, we all voiced our opinions and thoughts, but a few in each course inevitably fell into the roll of leader, based in their passion for the subject. That type of “along side” leadership showed me how I could bring my ideas back to my professional community in a non threatening way. Finally, the collaboration and community in this program was phenomenal. Sharing clearly outline thoughts and opinions with others was such an important step in my learning process. I learned so much about education, issues and ideas though my peers. We all come from our own experience, and I got to get up close to over fifty colleagues in this journey. Learning from the varied experience and ideas was beyond what I thought I would get in this program. It has been invaluable.
I will take what I learned, and the networking and community I experienced even more so, into my own practice and my shepherd leadership. I am constantly forming and reshaping a positive vision for my educational practice. I will live in the house of Educational Technology and Design.