TL Conference 2017 Reflections
Written by Mark Maddy, Ed.D., Educational Sciences, Foundations and Research –
The concept of transformation and Transformative Learning have been hallmarks of the educational practice at the University of Central Oklahoma for many years, creating an atmosphere that inspires creativity and diversity in instruction and assessment. I have had opportunities to incorporate some of those lessons learned from earlier conferences, professional developments on campus, and more. The 2017 Transformative Learning Conference was another example, and provided new opportunities for exposure to new ideas that I plan to integrate into my own learning and teaching.
Beginning with the panel discussion and responses to audience questions, the conference provided a unified look at Transformative Learning through the diversity of its presenters and subjects. The session that I attended on reflection expanded some of my ideas of reflection to be more intentional as a progression from entry-level through capstone courses. The discussions of the myriad definitions of diversity and how to create transformative opportunities when our students are so diverse encouraged me, as a teacher of teachers, to share these ideas with the perspective teachers that come through my courses.
The keynote address on Friday continued my growth in the area of Transformative Learning by reminding me of old tools that can be used in new ways with her addition of an additional two “Rs” to SQR3. I had used similar study skills methods when I was a counselor working with 3rd, 4th and 5th grade children, yet I had taken for granted that university level students had learned better study skills and didn’t need as much guidance from me. Because I primarily work with junior and senior level students and had a “sink or swim” mentality regarding their preparation for my class, I hadn’t considered incorporating a study skill lesson. That’s not a good thing for someone who is working with future teachers. This reminder of the diversity of backgrounds regarding level of preparation and proficiency of study skills made me rethink some of the ways that I will be presenting information.
This was the fourth Transformative Learning Conference that I’ve attended, and each has provided new insights.
This was the fourth Transformative Learning Conference that I’ve attended, and each has provided new insights. I spoke with someone after the conference and tried to summarize what we were doing and what transformative learning is. The question that was asked of me was, “Isn’t that what education is supposed to be?” The question is a valid one, yet we all know how common it is for professors to stick with what is comfortable, and for many, that is straight lecture with little or no student interaction. We are all students in our classrooms because it is imperative that we improve and transform our learning in order to be more effective in teaching our students how to transform themselves. Our learning comes from listening: listening to the words our students say, as well as listening to the unspoken/unwritten messages that those students are sending us. We can only guide them toward transformation if we are willing to transform ourselves. We must continually tweak our instruction in order to create opportunities for students to learn new skills, such as how to gather and integrate new information that may lead to their transformation from a consumer of knowledge to a creator of learning opportunities.