On Going Back to School

I love to learn. The past five years of teaching have also been five years of learning for me. Attending conferences, reading books, engaging on Twitter, having conversations with people: I'm always hoping to learn more about my classroom practice and improve what I'm doing. 

And so for the past year or so, I've been contemplating going back to school for my Master's degree to continue that learning in a more formal way. 

After all, getting your Master's is the teacher thing to do. It helps you move up on the pay scale. It's a shiny piece of paper in the classroom. And we're teachers and we're supposed to love school anyway, right? 

Well, ultimately my decision was made for me to go back to school. My preliminary California credential runs out this year, and since my school doesn't have BTSA, I need to go back to a university to take a clear credential program. 

I'm on week 2, and I've already decided that I'm not going back for a master's in education after this year-long program is done. Here's why: 

1) It's a time suck. This week's homework will take me about four hours to complete... and it's all busy work. In no way have I reflected on my classroom practice. In no way have I made a difference in a kid's life. I've learned some fancy buzz words, but that's it. 

2) It's just recycled resources. Nothing that the professor has posted in our online classroom thus far has been original content. Now, on one hand, I appreciate this resourcefulness and am all about not inventing the wheel. But, really!? Why am I paying all this money for someone to curate some 10+-year-old resources and read my fluffy answers? Why does the state think this will make me a better teacher?

3) I want to learn what I want to learn. I really like to learn, and I'm always improving my classroom practice. I've never really liked being told what to do, and this is no different. I want to spend my "study" time investing things that are going to make a difference in real students' lives. 

And so I wonder... 

Why can't there be a Master's in education that's built up entirely of independent studies that allow teachers to learn and explore things that will directly change their students' lives? 

Why do we continue to let the university level be about learning to B.S. and schmooze instead of effective learning? When will the university level see the philosophy shift that we're beginning to see in K-12? How do we speak out and see change there like we're seeing in our own classrooms? How do we prepare our students for the massive shift in the way they have to learn in college? 

But really, I want to build my own Master's program. I'd take classes on project based learning and design thinking. I'd learn about differentiating instruction in Language Arts instead of just learning what it means to differentiate instruction. I'd study adaptive technologies. I'd read multicultural literature and research the effect reading these in class can have. I'd learn more about technology and programming and what that can look like in language arts and math. I really think I could make a well-rounded curriculum that's personalized, and most importantly, that would positively impact the lives and learning of real-life students. 

So education courses, you've lost me. I might show up in an MBA program someday soon, but I don't want to learn about fancy education buzzwords. I don't really care about the "SAMR model" or "rigor"... I care about kids and teaching them language arts and math, and more importantly, teaching them life. Teaching them that they're worth it. That they have an important voice to share. That they can make a difference in our world.