Words of Wisdom

Posted by Debby on 1st August and posted in It's the Process

As mentioned in a previous post, I recently attended an alumni conference for my grad program. There were representatives there from almost every group from cadre 1 through 14 (the ink was still wet on their diplomas!). The new cadre was starting their learning adventure and we had many opportunities to welcome them into our community. They were nervous, curious, cautious, excited, and ready to embark on their new learning adventure.

It is an extremely intensive year, one that makes you step up to your A game and play hard. It is also a transformative year, and for many, disruptively so. At the conference, we joked that there needs to be a post-graduation therapy session to help people step out into the new world they have created. It’s a little bit (or a lot) of PTSD mixed in with exuberant passion, a heavy dose of high-octane ADD, and an overwhelming desire to change the world. What in the heck do you do with that?

That’s exactly the question that one of the alumni posted to the board. Hopefully we were able to share some wisdom with the cadre 14 folks who are all excited and ready to take on whatever comes their way. Julia asked “What is the one thing you wish someone had told you as you began your post-OMAET/OMET/MALT journey? Great question!

I responded:

Relax. Reinvest in relationships. Reinvest in yourself. Nature hates a vacuum and it will be very tempting to fill up all that spare time with new projects. Take some time to reflectively consider your next steps and be very intentional about what projects you engage in. Christine was absolutely right above. Some of the biggest changes may have nothing to do with technology. Take the time to discover yourself.

I really wish someone had told me that when I finished the program. I dove head first into a chaotic life situation, into work projects, pretty much into anything that could keep me busy enough and engaged enough to stay out of trouble. What I didn’t do was take some time to reflectively consider where I wanted to go from here and how I might get there. Opportunities came at me from right and left and I took them all. I’m just starting to slow down now, a decade after I started the program, and I am beginning to take my own advice. Talk about a tricky transition!

Here are some of the other responses:

 Just relax. Enjoy the ride. Don’t panic. It will all work out.

1. OMAET/OMET/MALT isn’t the journey; – it’s only one of the stepping stones on the journey

2. “It’s all about the process” is therefore only one of the stepping stones on the journey

3. The journey changes as a result of OMAET/OMET/MALT

4. Don’t go to the graduating cadre’s ARP exhibitions, you will hear too many things that will taint your VirtCamp experience

Oh wait. Here’s the killer. Only item 4 from above should be told to prospective MALTers. There is a big difference between what one might “wish” they had been told and what they “should” be told.

How the program influences you may have nothing to do with technology (or education).

Going to grad school was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made and as Christine said, it wasn’t because of the technology. It was because of the people – the connections, the community, the collaboration – people I am still in contact with and still love to interact with. We’ve been reinforcing those connections on our alumni facebook page. One of the new guys asked me there “if you had to summarize Debby before MALT and Debby after, what would you say the effect was on you and your profession?” and I replied:

“It didn’t change my teaching practice much. It gave me vocabulary to describe what I already did and it backed my practice with theory. It made me a more reflective practitioner. I started blogging in August 2002 for the program and haven’t stopped since (both personal and professional). Most importantly, I made connections with people and ideas that I wouldn’t have otherwise… I almost didn’t go to grad school because I had 5 kids (including 3 preschoolers), was working full time, and didn’t know if I could do it… but I took the road less traveled by, and that has made all the difference!”

Yep… I’d do it all over again!

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