2018 Goals: To Learn!

It’s been about three weeks since my last blog! I’m sorry to my readers. I had set out some goals for myself as I approached this new year. Yes, blogging was one of them, but even more significant, is my desire to pursue learning.

Starting last week, I began taking a graduate class at the University of Washington within their school of education: Developmental Foundations of Early Learning. I’m not an official student. I was accepted as a non-matriculated student, which means I can earn credit, but currently, it won’t get applied to any program at the University yet. My hope is with this class and other activities I will be doing this year, I can put together a stellar application and enroll in their PhD program in Learning Sciences and Human Development. As it stands, I will be preparing for a group case study on the topic,┬áSocial and Emotional Development in Early Childhood, and my final will be a poster presentation on an existing form of curriculum designed for those between birth and fifth grade. I already have an idea for my final project, but it hasn’t been approved yet, so I will keep it to myself for the moment.

A second thing I started last week is music lessons. I purchased for myself basically a toddler’s melodica, and I’m intent on learning how to play. I found a private instructor, and I’m taking classes that take place immediately after my university class. I don’t play the piano, so these lessons are actually both teaching me how to play the melodica and the piano. I am having a wonderful time and proving to myself that even forty isn’t too old to learn a musical instrument.

Next, I’m working on my leadership skills. As a member of Toastmasters International (specifically “Leading Ladies Toastmasters Club“), I competed as my division’s finalist in the District 2 conference. Sadly, I didn’t place, but I certainly made an impression upon the leadership in my division. Now, I have accepted the request to chair an officer’s training workshop that will take place this next weekend. While I have had the help of fellow toastmasters, a lot of it was up to my creativity, and this Saturday, I hope to see a successful workshop of over 70 people!

Finally, I’m looking forward to attending the next National Association for Music Education conference in March 2018. This one will be better suited for me as it is focussed on research. One exciting thing I can share with my readers is that NAfME contacted me shortly after their November conference and requested to reprint three of my blogs about their conference. I eagerly agreed. I hope to produce similar blogs when I attend their next conference, and I’m very happy that they liked what I wrote.

For anyone who has completed a PhD program, even though I tried to complete one prior to now, I would love to hear your thoughts or tips on the application process. There is a lot to do, but fortunately, the deadline for applying is January 2019!

Update: Exciting news for me

I actually started working with University of Washington’s Institute for Language and Brain Sciences (ILABS), starting in November. It took awhile to get things going, and I was out of town for much of October.

In November, though, we finally started working. I met the student with whom I would be working – she was a sophomore at the school with currently no confirmed major. The two of us would take charge of the upcoming study from recruitment through second session of the study. I was also hoping to take a look at the findings once the post-doc has compiled them.

To date, we’ve finished typing our protocol and have advertised for participants. Today, my post-doc had me be the participant in the second session of the study which involves an MEG. I had already practiced the set up for this portion, but it is important to understand what the participant will be experiencing. On a side note, as an epileptic, I now feel much more educated about EEGs!

And, now we wait for participants to start calling or emailing. I’m not sure if anything will get done before the end of the year, but I hope so!

Exciting news for me!

I received my MS in educational psychology back in 2005, and after a failed attempt toward earning my PhD in the same subject matter, I had all but resigned myself to “some day I’ll be a researcher, but I don’t know when or how”. A lot has changed since 2012 when I was forced to abandon my PhD studies, specifically in the past year.

In September of last year, the parents of a child with mild learning and behavioral difficulties offered me the opportunity to be a one-on-one aide for that child during the entire school year. It was a tremendous experience and one that I really felt unprepared for on a daily basis. But, I learned a lot from the “trial by fire”. And, once the school year ended, I began working at an organization that emphasizes sensory learning. I truly believe that my one year of intense in-school work prepared me for this new role. I now worked with up to 8 kids a day using sensory teaching techniques to improve their literacy skills. It was terrifying to be working full time after not having done so for five years, and luckily, I was able to reduce to significant part-time hours after only about a month! But, I was working with kids in an educational environment. This is something I didn’t think would ever happen because I saw myself as over-educated and under-experienced.

Since I finished my MS degree, I had a desire to work with researchers at the University of Washington’s Institute for Language and Brain Sciences. Of course, I wasn’t known to the University. I didn’t earn my degree there and had never taken even one course there. So, presenting myself with just a degree did not make me a likely candidate for a research assistant position. My only opportunity was as a volunteer but financial difficulties had never made that possible, until now.

At the end of September, I will start volunteering with a post-doc at UW’s ILABS for, what I hope, will be long-term or at least until I’m able to restart a PhD program. The post-doc student informed me I will start with the basics – participant recruitment – and move up through developing research protocols and eventually learning how to do an EEG. This is incredibly exciting for me, and I really hope I will continue to have back up financial resources so that I continue volunteering without anxiety over my financial responsibilities.