Perhaps it is better to list the skills the MAT program has helped me develop, such as reflective practices, differentiation within any group, and compassion for those in my care.
I suppose I could focus on the difficulty of the work, the late hours, the churn within my mind as I pondered new concepts for weeks and months on end. Instead, I’d rather bask in the profundity of the experience, the depth of my emotional bonds to those who guided me through this course of study, or the applications I have found for Backward Design within my own family structure. Not to mention the measurable successes in my professional life.
Measurable Successes in My Professional Life
In December of 2008, I applied to become a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador and was accepted into the program two weeks later. I had discovered this NASA volunteer position after the application deadline, but the fact that I was enrolled in the MAT program at Marygrove swayed the coordinator to accept my late application.
Early in 2009, I gathered all the educators together at my facility (I am a nontraditional educator at a science museum) and formed an informal collaborative group called Evening Among The Stars (EATS). This program was so successful in creating bonds among my colleagues and allowing for educators to share knowledge and experience in a formalized but exciting and collegial way, it has since become an integral program in our division.
MAT Program Challenged Me to Grow
Since being accepted into the MAT program, in spite of the fact that my “day job” has nothing to do with teaching, I have seen my salary increase 50 percent and have had regular job offers. These have come, in part, due to my enrollment in the Marygrove College MAT program. I have accepted three positions, each with substantial increases in opportunity and pay-- and better working conditions.
Has the MAT program affected my ability to interact with my students? Undoubtedly. Has my ability to teach to a well-crafted lesson plan at the planetarium improved? Distinctly so. Most importantly, however, the program challenged me to grow, reflect on my own practices, contribute to the research in my own teaching environment, and subsequently partner more closely with the Director of Morehead Planetarium and Science Center. In fact, the Director and I are working on the second draft of our article based on my master’s research that we hope to have published in the next calendar year.
This is the first time I’ve been able to step out of my comfort zone within an academic context, while having a virtual host of new skills to apply directly to nearly every venue of my life. Marygrove has changed my life profoundly and I am forever in the debt of those who provided such a strong challenge in the form of this MAT program.