What I found through this course was that I am definitely more of a language person than a scientific or mathematical person. I was genuinely interested in the qualitative research reports that we studied or that I found in conducting my literature review. On the other hand, the quantitative research was so far outside of my normal range of reading that I found myself reading them three or four times and still being confused. I do see the value in numbers and statistics in research, and so found myself struggling with how to easily combine these two methods. Luckily, towards the end of the course, I found the solution when we began learning about mixed methods research. While I am nowhere near to being comfortable enough to conduct my own large-scale research, I believe that as educators, we are all researchers on a small scale in our classroom. We constantly experiment with new ways of presenting information, creating interactions, and assessing learning while then reviewing the numbers that we receive from those experiments.
The other course that I took was EDL 7100, Leadership Theory and Practice. One of the most challenging things about this course was trying to put myself into the mindset of a school leader. I have always seen myself as "just" a teacher, with very little leadership ability. This is good, because I have also never seen myself moving into administration, preferring instead to stay in the classroom and to teach students, not to lead teachers. However, as the course progressed, I began to realize that I am a leader already, in my classroom, in my department, and in my school. In my classroom, I act as a leader by inspiring and encouraging my students, by helping them to learn information and skills that will benefit them when they leave my classroom, and by expanding their spectrum of knowledge beyond the walls and borders of our classroom. In my department, I lead by assisting other teachers when they struggle (just as they assist me), by sharing current legislation or discussions that may affect our content area, and by promoting a cycle of constant inquiry into best practices for education. In my school, I am able to serve as a teacher-leader through the things that I do as a classroom teacher. The ultimate lesson that I learned through this course was that leaders are not confined to department chairs or administrators. All educators have the potential and ability to become leaders - they just have to do it.