My ASU Graduate Experience

June 7, 2011

Nearly two years ago I received an email advertising a quality graduate program in curriculum and instruction at an unbelievable price.  I spoke with an outsourced recruiter who promised me the world if I would start “today.”  She encouraged me to pay all the costs up front to ensure that tuition increases would not apply to me.  I was deeply concerned with the legitimacy of the program and how I would be perceived as a graduate of such an outfit.  “Nowhere on your transcript will it say that your program was all online,” she reassured me.  I was not reassured…

Rather than jump in with both feet, I signed up for one course to check the program out.  The online learning environment was easy to navigate, course expectations were clearly communicated from the start, and I was given weekly feedback on my work.  I interacted with my teaching assistant frequently in the first course, requesting more thorough feedback than “Great Work! 25/25.”  I found the mix of reading, writing, and doing assignments to be reasonable and thorough.  I was sold.

Since completing that first course, my impression of the rigor, quality, and legitimacy of the online Educational Leadership program at Arkansas State University has only improved.  Although slight changes in content delivery, feedback formats, and internship details have come and gone, the quality of instruction has remained uncompromised.  In spite of the “first line of defense” being teaching assistants, I have always felt connected to my professors.  One even invited me to come to Jonesboro and join her for coffee to continue a discussion we were having via email.

The advertisement that drew me into this program claimed to enhance my leadership skills, dispositions, and practices.  Although I possessed leadership aspirations as a classroom teacher, I was sorely lacking in leadership skills and practices.  This program has developed each of those in me and more.  I have grown from teacher to educator.  My perspective has shifted from the students, resources, and activities in my classroom to the students, resources, and activities in my school and community.

Exactly how and when this transition occurred is difficult to pinpoint.  Looking at my early internship activities and class assignments presented in my final portfolio, it is clear that my solutions were designed for the individual classroom and teacher.  My most recent internship activities and assignments reflect a broader perspective inclusive of the school’s shared vision.  This is a deep shift in my thinking and approach to solving problems.

The reflection component stressed by the program has also had a profound impact on my growth as an educational leader.  By requiring key assignments and activities to be inventoried and presented with reflections, the value of early assignments can truly be experienced through the lens of a more mature student.  I have taken time to review work completed in and out of class independently and with my mentor.  Only by looking back is the true value of the work realized.  Reflection is an activity that I plan to continue as a part of my professional growth plan.

In summary, the online degree program that attracted me for its flexibility and low price has proven to be worth its price tenfold.  The skills and abilities that I have acquired when paired with the intangible shift in my perspective and dispositions will allow me to be a true educational leader capable of improving the lives of students for years to come.

2 Responses to “My ASU Graduate Experience”

  1. Tina Says:

    Great thoughts and I love your comments on reflection. I, too, have learned to reflect, and have grown as an educator more than I ever thought that I would. I am currently making some rather large proposals to my superintendent! Great job Danny! I know it was hard work sometimes but well worth it in the end!

  2. shirley fetherolf Says:

    Anyone certified as a teacher in Arkansas can take one free course through Arkansas Ideas on PBS Teacherline each semester, including summer. I just signed up for Graphic Organizers, a national level course based on Moodle. You can pay to get graduate credit at several universities. Shirley Fetherolf ADE Library Specialist

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