It's been awhile since my last post as being a doctoral student that works full time as a secondary technological studies educator as it leaves little time for pretty much everything, but over the winter break I had a epiphany. Over my years as a grad student I realized that it has been a lonely journey. It's not because my classmates weren't friendly or inclusive in our group or collaboration work, it's because of who I am within the big picture of who becomes a graduate student, but let me give you some background information.
The journey of becoming a learning science graduate student is long with lots of hoops along the way to being invited to join in the academic party of research. It requires the completion of a university degree, gaining experience as an educator, references, and a really well crafted outline of what you want to accomplish and how it will benefit education.
The requirements of becoming an Ontario secondary technological studies educator differ from the secondary academic areas and elementary. Whereas academic and elementary educators are required to successfully complete a university degree as well as possible related volunteer experience (depending on the institute that they study at), technological studies educators are required to have both trade related experience as well as licenced designation (red seal) or a related college diploma along with the additional requirements that the academic applicants must have (OCT, 2014).
Becoming a tech teacher (as we are more commonly known) didn't take place until the summer that I had finished teacher's college as a business educator. To gain acceptance into OISE/UT's additional basic level qualification communication technology course, I was required to prove my competency and professional experience through my portfolio as a desktop publisher. The appeal of teaching this subject area was the perfect marriage of allowing me to share my knowledge and passion of the various creative business industries in an authentic program. Eighteen years ago as a newly graduated tech teacher, I was frequently told that I was a rare bird because I was a female and because I had a university degree: not much has changed since then.
While in class in Calgary this past summer I realized that during collaboration class activities, I really couldn't form a group. Initially my classmates would form groups with subject or level related members. It makes sense from a research perspective--post secondary educators would be researching similar literature as would the elementary, science and other subject areas. Although I did join groups for collaboration, there wasn't a group of tech teachers to form their own group.
Why this thought was and still is important to me, it made me realize the challenge that I'm having finding articles for my research--specifically subjected related that identify activity based findings. There aren't a lot of tech teachers doing research as there aren't a lot of us who have completed or are in graduate school contributing to the peer review literature that are influencing educational policies and practices. During the winter break, I tried to use social media to connect with other researchers who are or have experience as a secondary technological educators. No one replied.
Research is important. It aids the policy makers to develop new policies, curriculum and methodologies that address subject and level specific challenges to better meet the needs of the learners. Modifying ideas from another subject or level isn't quite as good as utilizing the information gained from your own subject area research. As a classroom educator, I want to know what works and doesn't work for new ideas and policies for secondary technological studies learners. I don't want to be told to modify a science or post secondary article as "I'm sure that this relates".
On my days when I question whether or not I can complete my doctoral journey as my life seems to be getting busier and not slower, I am driven by the need to see more research that can benefit secondary technological studies programs. I am also speaking with other secondary technological studies educators to publish their finding anywhere we can. If we want technological studies to continue to grow and thrive, we have to increase our visibility.
On a side note, if you know of any secondary tech teacher (retired or current) who has or is completing graduate school, can you please ask them to contact me. It would be nice to have a discussion with a colleague to see what they've learned and/or what they're researching. They can contact me through my blog or by twitter KimberleyFlood.
Ontario College of Teachers C. (2014). 2015 Registration Guide Technological Education, 5. Retrieved from http://www.oct.ca/-/media/PDF/Requirements%20for%20Becoming%20a%20Teacher%20of%20Technological%20Education%20in%20Ontario/EN/technological_education_e.pdf