Reflections of 1999 by Beth Cramer : LUSENET : M.Ed./International Falls : One Thread

Looking Back on UMD Masters Cohort Program '99

It all began with the educational world according to Elizabeth Cramer. The autobiography was the first of many writing experiences this school year. Recalling and reflecting in written form on my background , present and future required skills I had buried in my undergraduate years. While plunging deep into my educational memories, I gained the pleasure of finding myself, the eager student, who thrived on the unknown and new beginnings.

The first big plunge was head first into the world of computers. Word processing was frustrating. One wrong push and letters begin to disappear while typing. One moment your window appears normal and the next, well you have to close the program and hope it returns magically the right way- whatever that is. Tina and Tim solved many of the Cohort's word processing problems. Basic worksheets aided and guided us through the buttons, files and keyboard problems.

Education 5412 and 5413 covered terminology and computer programs that furthered my advancement in word processing, research and presentation. Utilizing this new knowledge and applying it directly in my classroom was the beneficial component of these courses. I have added desktop publishing, draw programs, word processing techniques, spreadsheets, Internet research techniques and the portfolio concept concurrently to my computer curriculum. Watching my students perfect what I had just learned, reinforced the value of these courses. I am presently completing Education 5414. The instructor dazzled the class with up to date information that we could apply to our present teaching environments. Among the many valuable materials presented, I am excited to introduce WebQuest to my students next year. This task oriented program encourages students to learn in an exciting goal directed fashion.

The UTNE journal was definitely an unexpected new beginning. We could have written four reaction papers based solely on the front covers. UTNE poetry attracted my attention and became my focus for the year. Eric Utne grabbed my attention with his dream poem, a reflection on his return to family life. In my second UTNE response, I applauded Barbara Kingsolver. Her use of prose to argue the importance of poetry in the curriculum awed and inspired me. My third response, featured an article in which the author/ poet preferred poems to children. She presented the importance of both having a family and the importance of accepting woman who decide not to have children. My last response to "Mean People Suck" was pure writing enjoyment. In retrospect, it may not have been my best work, but it was an avenue for humor and an outlet to release built up tension. I was disappointed that I was unable to participate in the "Great Books" discussion. I chose to read Reviving Ophelia. It would have been interesting to share reflections on this book. Reviving Ophelia will be a great reference book that I will continue to use both as a parent and teacher. I liked the way Mary Pipher shared the stories of adolescents while teaching the reader important communication techniques that can be used to reach troubled teens. When I think back on the highlights of this year, I have to mention Ladds cohort project. I have seen people building homes and never given a second thought about the value of their trade. The importance of details down to the last eighth of an inch was amazing. I struggled with the terms, tools, measurements and the significance of what nail to choose. The most important lesson to be gleaned from this experience is the merit and respect that many trades deserve.

In closing, the International Falls Cohort has offered much more than an education, it has personally built relationships that I will value for years to come. Each and every member is a valuable educational resource that I can utilize to help enhance my vocation as a teacher. Teaching at St. Thomas can be difficult because of how isolated St. Thomas teachers are from the public school system. The Cohort allows us to close that gap and make important connections through the sharing of ideas, opinions and teaching styles.

-- Anonymous, May 29, 1999

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