Enter yours truly, first week in September, to the classroom of my Culture, Power, and Education course. The very first course that I would take as a starting Doctor of Education student. I soon found out that I was sharing the program with a varied group of professionals; graduate assistants, principals, assistant principals, (assistant) directors of admissions, full-time teachers, sports coaches, criminal justice professionals, and even perpetual students like myself.
My initial thought was to remain calm, as I started wondering, how in the world was I accepted to a program like this? I am not a notoriously straight “A” student (trust me), my CV is filled with a handful of part-time jobs, being a student is all I know how to do, and on top of that, I was more or less new to the academic side of education (irony to the extreme!), despite the formal and informal education-based positions I’ve held. It was somewhat intimidating at first, sharing a classroom with someone who decides whether someone is admitted or not to some of the country’s most prestigious universities, as well as someone who is a principal and oversees the operation of an entire school. Is anyone else in a similar position like mine simply awed by this? I know. I wondered for quite a while what I was doing in the same classroom as these people. I mean, I wasn’t born yesterday, I was conscious of the decision I made to begin earning an EdD, however, the principle of the whole thing (pun intended) was the most intimidating to me.
Over time, I started to take note of the culture that was developing in the classroom. It wasn’t important that I was not a principal, or a director of admissions, or even a seasoned educator. The point was that I was building a culture of collaboration and genuine care about education with these dynamic individuals. Education is a common passion among us all, despite the high caliber job(s) that those in the classroom held. I soon realized that my contribution to the classroom discussion was being taken seriously; that I had something of value to contribute to the class content. How was it that what I had to say, matched up with what someone else shared? Or that what I shared, someone agreed with? Simple. It was because we all cared. It needs to be said that a sense of authenticity exists between my classmates and I; there exists a common respect and appreciation for education, despite our differing interests of work within the field.
Fast forward to now. My third quarter (getting used to the quarter system as a seasoned semester-based student has been quite an experience). A few classes under my belt. I’ve built rapport with a handful of Professors (mostly adjuncts because adjuncts are awesome), as well as a large group of classmates. This is why I am earning a Doctor of Education; the networking, the learning, the friendships, the intense dialogue, the honest feedback, and the relationships made with professors. The thought of “will I integrate well into a class of education professionals” is no longer a thought of mine. Actually, if anything, I wonder (and look forward to) who I get to share class time with, because if I learn anything in this program, it’s from my classmates and professors, not a textbook.
> BONUS <
Podcast With Marsha Herman-Betzen on A Story of a Life in SA