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FALL 2017

Image by Kyaw Tun

FALL 2017

EAD 822: Engaging Diverse Students and Families -- R. Jacobsen

As one of the first courses I took in the MAED, EAD 822 encouraged me to check my own privileges and potential hidden biases as an educator. Growing up in a very affluent, predominantly white area, I certainly had a lot to learn in terms of how to appropriately engage with and advocate for those with very different backgrounds from my own. Of all of the essays we wrote throughout the semester, the one that stuck out to me the most was the process of describing how School of Choice promotes segregation. Going into the essay, I was actually in favor of school of choice, because I initially figured there was nothing wrong with choosing one school over another. It just goes to show how much your point of view can change when you're open-minded, because the resources provided for the essay challenged my thoughts and allowed me to adopt a completely different mindset on the topic. Growth can be uncomfortable, and that's one of the reasons I'm especially thankful for this course!

CEP 818: Creativity in Teaching and Learning -- C. Robertson & C. Marcotte

Being an outreach educator without a traditional classroom setting, I'm given quite a bit of creative freedom in terms of how I teach; I know a lot of educators like to joke about their classroom being a zoo, but it's a whole different story when your classroom is, literally, the zoo! I've always recognized and been appreciative of how much imagination I'm able to put into my teaching, but I don't think I've really ever understood how to quite harness that power. CEP 818 challenged me to try out different mediums, and to push my own creative boundaries in creating lesson plans. From videos diaries to literal relay races, this course allowed me to redesign existing lessons plans into something more exciting, and create entirely new lesson plans in a more engaging manner.


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TE 831: Teaching Subject Matter with Technology -- D. Hartman

This was one of the most nerve-wracking courses I took throughout my entire degree. As a conservation educator, one of my biggest goals is to connect those around me with the natural world... this often means that I'm asking my students to "unplug." Of course, this is a completely opposing ideology to the one proposed in this course. While I thought I would end up even more set in my "go outside... nature is the best teacher" ways, this course reminded me that I do not have to choose one over the other. While I can still encourage my students to get out in nature, I can also use technology to enhance their experience, and even to conserve wildlife in more efficient, successful ways. I mentioned above that growth can be uncomfortable, but again, I'm glad this course challenged my views on technology in my classroom, as I have now tapped into a much more in depth set of resources for my students.

Image by Kris Mikael Krister

FALL 2018

TE 861B: Inquiry, Nature of Science and Science Teaching -- K. Wray

Coming into this graduate program without a background in education, there were many teaching terms and concepts I was unfamiliar with. I had very little knowledge of curriculum planning, Next Generation Science Standards, and inquiry-based teaching, just to name a few. This was the first course I really explored the concepts, and got a much deeper look into what real "classroom teaching" is like. Despite not having an official classroom of my own, I was able to apply these concepts to my own unique teaching setting. At the end of the course, I was able to develop an entire lesson plan related to the inquiry of camouflage, and adapt it to my informal setting. This course gave me a strong foundation of theoretical knowledge and practical skills for including inquiry not only in my "classroom," but to help me succeed in future coursework as well.


Image by Marius Masalar

EAD 861: Adult Learning -- R. Shahjahan

Working at the zoo, I tend to imagine myself teaching hundreds of kids about animals every day. And while this is certainly true, kids aren't the only guests that come to the zoo. In fact, on any given day, I probably interact with more adults than I do children, educating them about conservation and things they can do to preserve wildlife. I wanted to take this course to learn how to better engage my adult students, as I have previously placed much more focus on creating lessons and activities for much younger audiences. In addition to zoo guests, I manage a staff of young adults as well, and through this course, I was able to discover ways to be a better educator to them.

Image by Philippe Oursel


CEP 883: Psychology of Classroom Discipline -- J. Aupperlee & M. Lien

I'm in an interesting position as an informal educator, because my students don't really "belong" to me. I don't have a classroom of my own, and sometimes my "students" are only my students for minutes at a time. Because of my unique setting, discipline can be a bit of a challenge. The zoo is supposed to be inherently fun; though I am there to educate the public, they aren't obligated to listen to or talk to me. Guests can run around and be loud with virtually no consequences, so long as they are not putting animals or other people in danger. So how do you discipline someone who can choose whether or not they'd like to be a student that day? CEP 883 taught me some great strategies in terms of maintaining a position of authority while respectfully disciplining my "students." I have to be able to adapt in my unique teaching setting, but that's what being a great educator is all about!


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ED 800: Educational Inquiry -- S. Weiland

I had an interesting journey with this course. Though it is one of the baseline courses for my degree, I ended up finishing it in my second to last semester of graduate school. Taking the class so late gave me an interesting point of view on the coursework. The prior knowledge of scientific inquiry I'd gained from previous courses gave me a different perspective on the assignments than I'd have had if I was learning about inquiry for the first time. Additionally, this course also reinforced my sense of accountability. With no due dates, it was a challenge for me as a chronic procrastinator to complete the work in a timely fashion. Besides the content of the course itself, ED 800  was an excellent crash course in responsibility and time management.

CEP 832: Educating Students with Challenging Behavior -- J. Aupperlee & V. Mousouli

About halfway through my time in the MAED, I had the realization that I am not only an educator to zoo guests, but also to my own staff of seasonal education employees; I am an educator to the educators themselves! I often talk about how little time I have with my "students" (sometimes I'll literally only talk to a guest for ten minutes and never cross paths again). However, when considering my employees as my students as well, I am lucky enough to spend several months with them. In these months, behavioral problems can arise, as they often do in groups of ~18 year olds. Because I have so much more time with these "students" than others of mine, I wanted to make sure I was able to resolve these issues as effectively as possible.  CEP 832 allowed me to gain a new perspective on attacking these types of problems, and as a final project, I was even able to develop an entire behavioral correction plan for one of my employees. Because of this course, I feel much more confident approaching and advocating for students with more challenging behaviors.

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