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Reflection Letter

Page history last edited by juanaurbano.utb@gmail.com 11 years, 7 months ago

 

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Graduate Program Letter

 

and

 

Scholarship Letter

 

 

 

 

 

 

October 1, 2012

 

 

Dear Educational Technology Faculty,

 

Since graduating with my bachelor's degree in 2006, I had what I thought was a fulfilling career. My first professional goal was to have a career as an administrative assistant. Working as a secretary at a Catholic institution for nine years and as an administrative assistant at two different charter schools completed that goal so, I am ready for my next professional career move.

 

I hear people say, “Some things happen for a reason.” I can attest to that phrase. Two years ago, I registered in the Masters of Education in Educational Technology program for the wrong reasons. The first reason was that The University of Texas at Brownsville (UTB) did not offer Masters of Communication. The second reason was that my marriage of 27 years ended abruptly leaving me heartbroken, perplexed and with no financial stability. At that time, my thoughts were to regain my self esteem by obtaining a master’s degree in hopes my ex-husband would return. Today, my personal and professional perspectives have changed completely.

 

As I began to take courses in the Masters of Education in Educational Technology program (M.Ed.), I discovered I had gotten rusty at studying. I was easily distracted with unhappy thoughts and found it difficult to focus. Having been a face-to-face type of student with no online course experiences took some getting used to. Nevertheless, I soon realized M.Ed. online courses were a perfect fit for my schedule because I was not able to attend classes during the day. In addition, I quickly learned that the M.Ed. online courses helped me teach UTB student work-studies in the Division of Institutional Advancement where I am employed. I needed this kind of training as I have never been a teacher. Yet, after taking three semesters of M.Ed. courses, I realized the courses were very challenging. I had no educational background or a foundation to assist me with development trainings for high school students. It was not easy; in fact, it was tough!

 

I remember at the beginning of every course, I would point out to all my professors that I had no experience in the education field. My biggest apprehension was that my professors would not take me seriously because I had no students, no teachers and no principal to work with. I believed that developing instructional technology lessons was out of my reach and therefore I was destined to receive low grades. I was wrong. My professors were absolutely patient with me, answered every question, and cared for my learning. They understood their role as professors and ensured I was receiving the ultimate learning experience so that I might continue to move forward and complete the courses. Their professionalism is without a doubt one I would boast about for years to come. (Dr Corbeil Letter.pdf)

 

As mentioned before, the M.Ed. courses were difficult for me to grasp, and I struggled to keep up. On many occasions, I felt unworthy of the program because of my lack of knowledge in teaching and educational terminology. I would read the courses’ syllabus and would think, “What did I get myself into?” followed by lots of crying, headaches, frustration and hatred. This would happen at the beginning of every semester! However, by the end of each semester, those very same courses that I damned at the beginning, I ended up learning, liking and eventually loving. Those courses taught me how to develop instructional units, design lessons, and communicate effectively in an educational environment. In addition, I learned about the most up-and-coming technologies such as wikis, blogs, social networking sites and web design. I remember being embarrassed in submitting my assignments and projects because I thought my work was not teacher material; I felt it was not structured enough, not informative or educational enough.

 

The courses I initially struggled with were EDTC 6320, EDTC 6323, EDTC 6325, EDTC 6329, EDTC 6341 and EDTC 6342. Certainly, it looks like all of them; however, if I were to select three courses they would have be EDTC 6320, EDTC 6325 and EDTC 6329. Those courses were major headaches; and yet, at the end of each semester my work was well thought-out, energetic and educational. I know this because of my audiences’ feedback. I learned from them that I was providing and delivering instruction in a technology advanced and stimulating fashion.

 

For example, in course EDTC 6320 Instructional Technology, my lesson consisted of creating and customizing a Camtasia video with all its hypermedia and multimedia bells and whistles. After 7,000 attempts to perfect my Ring, Ring video (Revised Project), I became a proficient Camtasia fan and enjoy creating videos. Today, this video is being utilized throughout our UTB campus to train student workers. In course EDTC 6325 Educational Telecommunications, two lessons were required. One was to develop an E-Learning Moodle through an open source courseware management system. Through my instructional process, I learned how to insert assignments, discussion questions, quizzes and compressed videos in order to address the subject Creating a Winning Résumé (Revised Project). Today, the E-learning Moodle is being utilized by the English lead teacher at Sentry Charter High School in Brownsville to help at-risk high school students prepare for job interviews. The other lesson was to explore Second Life as a tool to deliver instruction. I remember expressing to my mentor friend, “Our professor wants us to get a Second Life. I can only handle one life and he wants me to get a second one?!” We both laughed! Today, I see my SL avatar, not only as an instructional tool, but a great source of networking for personal, social and professional practices. In the last course, EDTC 6329 Special Topics in Educational Technology, three lessons were required. One lesson covered an instructional design lesson plan in Google tools. In depth, I learned how to design an instructional design training lesson on Integrating Google Docs and Google Calendar with High School Students Curriculum (Revised Project). This lesson plan integrated student environment background, characteristic research, pre-requisite analysis, assessment, rubric, evaluation and lastly survey results. Again, I sought the assistance of Sentry’s English lead teacher as my proxy to implement the Google Doc project with his students. The other two lessons were to create and set up a blog (http://juanitaurbano.blogspot.com/) and Twitter (https://twitter.com/) accounts for educational and communication purposes. Today, all teachers and students at Sentry Technology Charter School are integrating Google tools into their daily curriculum. In addition, teachers are collaborating lessons on their school’s blog (http://ignitebrownsville.blogspot.com/).

 

Throughout all my courses, I felt an overwhelming fear of how I was going to get through another course without any teacher experience. Nonetheless with the encouragement of family, friends, mentors, classmates and professors, I gradually learned that I had been given an opportunity to grow professionally and to personally survive those tough times. Those tough courses made me mentally and emotionally stronger; and right before my eyes, I learned to conquer those fears. The M.Ed. program of study has increased my self-esteem, and I remain focused on moving forward.

 

Furthermore, the faculty of the Masters of Education in Educational Technology program welcomed me and showed me their genuine care, patience and dedication. I felt their methods of educating and delivering new technology instruction and attention to detail is to be commended. Because of them, for the first time in a very long time, I felt proud and successful of my hard work. They taught me not to give up, but most of all, they believed in me when I did not believe in myself. For an online introverted student with no teaching experience, I am truly grateful for the consideration they have bestowed on me.

 

Finally, as mentioned before, I originally registered in this program of study for the wrong reasons. Today, I firmly believe God put me on this path for a reason. Indeed, things do happen for a reason, and as I move forward in my personal life and professional career, I have come to realize that whatever the future holds for me, I will be happy. My personal life is filled with the unconditional love from my two sons, and I know they are proud of me. They are my pillars of strength and the driving force. The continued support and affection from my family is one I will never forget. Many friends have seen me through the deepest darkest moments in my life, and yet only a hand-full are considered true friends. They are my faithful friends who will remain as such for years to come. My professional career will be interesting and important, and I will apply the many lessons I have learned. I will utilize and implement the curriculum that was covered and enjoy teaching and training anyone who wants to learn new technology. I am eager to start my new career, while I continue one day at a time to keep moving forward and stay focused in the present moment of my life.

 

Sincerely,

 

 

Juanita Urbano

 

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