Since my last posting, I have been pursuing a Masters in Curriculum and Instruction with a concentration on E-Learning. It has kept me busy and broke but has proven to be a transformative experience.
The journey started because I wanted to find ways to better support the teachers I work with.
A little background is in order...I run education programs at a large Tony Award-winning theatre in Chicago. Goodman Theatre has a slate of educational and engagement programs but the biggest and oldest is our Student Subscription Series (SSS). Now in its 28th season, SSS partners Goodman with about 30 under-resourced, underserved community high schools across Chicago. We provide arts-based teacher professional development for the teachers, and custom-created standards-based curriculum materials for students. Each teacher then gets to bring their students to see up to four shows in a season. The program is completely free.
The teachers in the SSS are terrific but fighting an uphill battle. Most of their students read at least one grade-level below where they should be, students navigate a dangerous path of drugs, violence and gangs just to get to school. And there is an administration whose commitment to public education is suspect - they closed 52 schools and are now soliciting applications for private charters to serve the same neighborhoods. Yet, they are fiercely committed to providing their students with the best chances to succeed that they can. That's why I'm getting the degree: supporting them with praxis they can incorporate to engage students in taking ownership of their own learning.
It has been an arduous year. Working full-time and going to school full-time isn't as easy as it was when I was in my 20's but it has been so rewarding. What I have learned will benefit not only the teachers and students we directly interact with but hopefully broaden the field by adding practice-based evidence to the body of literature. Now the real work begins...