Friday, September 23, 2011

free falling fall

In the three days since I've been down this road the trees have begun to turn.  So much can change in just a matter of days or in an instant.  Who we are, what we do and how we evolve can all happen at any moment.  Why then do we go about our lives believing otherwise? 

We go about our lives pretending that being ok is good enough and even worth being grateful for.  Instead of focusing on blessings and consecrating our lives in sacred ceremony we put one foot in front of the other and fall into mindless routine. 

All along the way three days ago there was a languorous misty rain falling.  Lots of birds flocking overhead migrating south with the weather change.  All along the way I thought lovingly of how this route has entranced me for life.  How delightful it is to be back. 

Boundless energy and irrepresible joy fill my being with bold daring for the fate and destiny I careen towards.  I am propelled forward by a raptuous sensuality that awaits.  In tense anticipation and voluptuous expectation - I feel tingling ripples twanging tightly all over me. 

I give free reign to the physical desire that drives my dementia.  Reliving the sensual abandonment of previous torrid encounters.  Willingly held hostage by my beloved thief of hearts.  I am made aware of being vitally alive - that life is full of wonder and surprise, that hope brings possible probables. 

As long as I have this sacred space I have a refuge for my soul and a haven to express my spirit.  For succor and relief from pettiness and triviality.  So I don't fall for the urge to sweat the small stuff.  Taking my beloved self to distant realms, off to dream in pursuit of bold adventures, ineffable visions and heady interludes.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Reflections on My ARP Process

Completing the process of writing my action research project (ARP) was a journey of self discovery, reflection, contemplation, and realization.  With the final segment of the course winding up for the class, this adventure continues to unfold and reveal facets and perspectives that contribute to my ongoing learning and expansion.  The development of this ARP for my Masters in Adult Education and Training (MAED) led to the enhancement of possibilities, potential, and myself as well. 

As a result I have undergone many changes.  In the process of advocating for evidence based practices and practitioner as researcher approaches, I shifted from behavioral to constructivist in both learning and instruction.  As an adult educator and training facilitator I have developed a holistic and collaborative approach in my learning environment.  Instead of sharing what I know I would rather design and create a healthy and inclusive space that nourishes, nurtures, and empowers diverse learning opportunities - for my learners and myself.  By providing a safe environment that honors and respects exploration and experiment more sharing and exchange can occur among stakeholders. 

Applying this educational constructs in instruction gave me the experience of leading by example and collaborating with my learners in discussion, dialogue, expression, action, and implementation.  This was a powerful and successful means of encouraging and empowering learners to explore and expand their own discoveries.  This contributed and led to changes that affected us all in positive ways.  The more my learners took ownership of their performance and achievements the more accountable and fulfilled they were about their attitude, learning, and themselves - as was I too.  In our collaborations between community centers in the United States and the Philippines we all became more eager, enthusiastic, and enthused by our collective teamwork and synergy. 

Incorporating and integrating technology also added benefits and advantages especially in enhanced accessibility and convenience.  It allowed each learner to explore and progress at their own pace.  It helped tremendously when dealing with participants from diverse parts of the world and working from different time zones and distinct cultures.  The andragogical methods of this constructivist and holistic learning system we built together greatly improved, supported, and strengthened our communication and interaction.  It also helped us stay in touch with each other more immediately during sessions and even after graduating from enrolled programs.  In the process I have been able to clearly develop and designate benchmarks that sustain my original vision for incorporating technology to enhance, extend, and expand existing curricula. 

The whole experience of completing this ARP has been such a roller coaster of highs and crashes.  Too often while grappling with my ARP it felt like I was wrestling with all my demons and angels in the process.  I am grateful to our instructor for keeping us clear and walking us thru the process, which really made a huge impact and difference to me. One I hope to live up to when in class with my learners as well.  

Unlike my previous classes, where I would grapple with individual facets and components - too concerned with getting the technical stuff handled and working right - the direction and support in this class gave me the perspective, precision, and persistence as each piece began to fall into place and I was able to reconnect once again with the vision and purpose of why I wanted to do this particular ARP.  Just like the Mr. Holland character in the movie “Mr. Holland’s Opus,” I deeply and sincerely offer my abject appreciation and profuse gratefulness for the assistance, care, and support I was generously accorded to come up with a stellar opus.

Lessons Learned and Insights Gained

1.      What have you learned from the completed Action Research process? 

As a student, lifelong learner, adult educator, and independent consultant the tools and techniques I acquired to build my online portfolio have been valuable and multiple.  Personally and professionally I can track and review my own performance, progress, and presentation more immediately and hands on.  The information and statistics I have accumulated these past two years have deepened my knowledge, understanding, and reflections on my learning and progress.  Keeping and updating a digital portfolio is a precious tool I have grown to appreciate and will continue to apply in my work and in my life. 

The research provided a fresh perspective on how participants learn, absorb, and adapt the concepts and theories presented.  Working on this ARP clearly documents and illustrates the application and implementation from theoretical learning to actual manifestation.  I am gratefully appreciative of having had this wonderful experience and I look forward to its continued unfoldment. 

2.      What would you do differently? 

I would have reviewed the series of ARP courses more closely at the beginning of being enrolled in this MAED Program.  I would have collaborated more with my assigned academic adviser, enrollment counselor, and academic board to preview and schedule classes and instructors that were the best fit for my learning style and chosen ARP topic.  I would definitely have scheduled my first ARP class more closely to the second one.  I also would have chosen to take my chosen elective in between the second and third ARP classes instead of taking these classes back to back as I did.  That would have allowed me more time to reflect, absorb, and contemplate so I could have come up with better adjustments to my ARP. 

3.      What would you recommend to students who are entering this process? 

The student can only prepare as much as they can as well as they can within the parameters dictated by the program and the institution.  Based on my sole experience my recommendations for improving the preparation process for students would be directed at UoP in general and its academic board in particular.  Considering the ARP is the lynch pin upon which the MAED Program is anchored - currently how the three ARP courses are set up individually (for both instructors and students) and its independent implementation are ineffectual at best and lame by a worst case scenario for instructional fulfillment and success of outcome. 

Because there is no or very little prior coordination or ongoing collaboration between the three classes, many students end up trashing what they created in ARP1 by the time they get to ARP2.  Or if they choose to keep the same topic, much time and effort is invested revising and adjusting their material to match it up with crucial requirements.  The pressure and stress could be greatly reduced if the workload between ARP1 (which at present is too lightweight and inconsequential) and ARP2 (which is too technically heavy and not more clearly defined) could be more equally distributed.  This may call for extending ARP1 into a six week session instead of its current four week time frame. 

4.      What would have helped you to be more successful with your action research project?  

The whole ARP curriculum is too theoretical in approach overall.  Providing students with written requirements beforehand is not adequate enough.  I believe UoP would have higher satisfaction rates on the ARP program if preparation workshops were incorporated as program prerequisites.  Otherwise the gap between what ARP1 provides and what will actually be required for ARP2 is totally inadequate in preparing the learner and addressing their ARPs. 

5.      Did you discover new resources or skill sets that will help you to continue to grow or to develop in your professional or personal life? 

Yes, I definitely appreciated being taught the intricacies of grant application and proposal writing.  I am also grateful to the many instructors and teams I had the privilege of working with.  Their contributions (both positive and challenging) have greatly enhanced and expanded my world and experience. 

6.      What were some challenges? How did you overcome them? 

I learned early on that although I enrolled in the MAED program for my own reasons, objectives, and purposes this only worked when I was matched well with like minded individuals who shared or understood what I was working toward.  I had the opportunity to come across an inflexible and highly dogmatic instructor in one class that just about killed all my interest in pursuing this MAED program to its end.  How it was so ineptly handled by UoP’s academic board only further soured the experience.  Good for me that I had high enough grades and performed well enough in other classes to not have had too adverse an effect on my overall output. 

It did not assist me in the least that the academic advisor assigned to me was also enrolled in the same program I was taking - only several subjects behind as I had started the program a few weeks ahead of her.  I think my expectations and complaints only managed to scare and intimidate her.  Too bad really as I had hoped to continue on with a doctorate after this.  It is clear now that enjoyable as my MAED experience was here at UoP it is not where I would return for more advanced education.  I need an educational institution that fosters a more creative and expansive attitude.