June 1, 2017

Why Get a Master’s Degree in Curriculum & Instruction?

By Barbara Perlewitz, Curriculum & Instruction Program Director | Education

My answer is simple—Concordia University, Nebraska’s fully online Curriculum & Instruction master’s program is an innovative, inquiry-based program with a focus on professional development. The goal of the program is to provide an opportunity for practicing teachers and other educational professionals to improve students’ performance, to accept greater responsibility in their roles as educational leaders, advocates and lifelong learners and to enhance their understanding and expertise in the following areas:

  • development of differentiated curriculum to meet the needs of diverse learners
  • analysis, interpretation and application of standardized assessment data within the curriculum
  • best practice in implementing instructional strategies and educational research
  • becoming strong and effective teacher-leaders

Since the program began, I have been asking graduating students in their final capstone course that exact question, and I think what they have to say after experiencing the program is a much better answer than I could ever give.

MATT L. | Cohort 7, Fall 2015
Service and Leadership (SOC 565) was a fun one for me. The bit that I enjoyed the most about this course was that it focused on the “Why do I teach?” question, while all the other classes had a foundation in “How do I teach?”  This was a great class for me because it really helped me refocus my energy and gave me a great deal of confidence in my daily teaching because I know that it is something that matters not just to the kids I work with each day, but to the community, nation, world and our friend the Good Lord.

Teachers as Leaders (EDUC 534): While I was taking this course, I was in my third year at my first regular-teaching-assignment.  At the time, I had been well conditioned by fifteen years of military service to just accept things as they are and work with them. This course opened my eyes to what teaching should be, and how the relationship between teachers and administration should work, which was clearly not the case at that particular school. I was the Lead Negotiator for my teacher group and each day we spent a great deal of time around the lunch table discussing the course’s topic-of-the-week. We did our best in the negotiations that spring to change some of the worst aspects of our teacher-administration relationship, and I am proud to say that we were very successful in defending and creating teacher rights within the school. We were able to develop clear lines of communication which had previously been not-just-discouraged but punished, and we were able to make teacher work-days into a teacher focused—not school board directed—time.

LESLIE K. | Cohort 7, Spring 2015
EDUC 531 and EDUC 506 were two of the most beneficial courses I took throughout the C&I program. Since the courses offer so many practical applications that are supported by theory, the information is both immediately applicable as a classroom teacher but also important to understand for those who are pursuing a path to some kind of educational leadership. I walked away each week, most times after each discussion, with a strategy that I could immediately implement into my classroom or lessons.

DEB S. | Cohort 2, Fall 2012
As a person and as an educator I have grown immensely as I progressed through the program. Issues were discussed that helped me discover who I really was, what my core values were, and what my stance was on many of the critical issues that we face in life.  Along this path I discovered that I had many attributes that I had not acknowledged before. Leadership skills, dedication, a deep and abiding faith, belief in children, and much, much more. Professionally, the course that I found the most beneficial was EDUC 506 Integrating Technology. Although the rigor was tougher than any other class I had taken, I learned a tremendous amount of information in a very short time period. As a computer teacher I had not challenged myself very much to learn new things and to keep up with the technology main stream of growth. I now have a solid, professional Twitter account established, I can design and create a blog, record my lectures and post them for all to see, utilize new technology without fear and get my students excited and engaged about learning again.

GEORGIA T. | Cohort 2, Fall 2012
Overall, the courses that I gained the most from had clearly defined purpose, assignments and procedures.  These instructors respected my area of specialization and understood that I am not in the classroom, but in some limbo between consultant, administrator and counselor. I appreciate professionalism that holds me to a high standard while allowing my professional development to be engaging and meaningful.

MOLLY A. | Cohort 8, Fall 2015
EDUC 534 Empowering Teachers as Leaders: This was my first class and it was just what I needed as I turned to working on my masters as a professional development journey. This class provided me with a great start that I was a teacher leader and how to transform my knowledge into being a great leader and motivator in our school. I gained a lot of self confidence in this class and looked at research projects as something we can really work on as teachers ourselves to assist in changing our students for the better.

BILLY H. | Cohort 8, Fall 2015
PSY 511 Psychological Foundations of Teaching and Learning: I was a little nervous for this class, however I found it very intriguing on looking at the way we evaluate students and discovering how their minds work. It was quite an amazing class and a huge eye opener in how we as teachers should look at and be teaching our students. I enjoyed learning about the different types of differentiation and how differentiation can have so many different appearances in your classroom. I also like learning from my peers in the discussion boards of the different differentiation strategies they used. The one course that I enjoyed the most, which surprised the heck out of me, was the integrating technology course. First let me start by saying, I am technologically un-inclined. I am anti-technology just because I know how weak I am using technology on my own, let alone with using it with 28 middle schoolers. I first liked how easy the instructor made it for us to learn about new and different technologies. I like that she provided us ideas and suggestions when we were looking into different technologies. I also liked that there were a lot of YouTube videos that made it a lot easier to see how to use them. The final capstone project for that course was an amazing learning experience as well at using technology into a subject specific project I could literally turn around and use immediately with my students in my current classrooms.

ASHLEY D. | Cohort 3, Spring 2013
When I began this program, I was in my first year of teaching, and constantly learning new practices to implement into my classroom. This program has given me many tools that I can successfully utilize in my teaching on a daily basis. I have truly appreciated how I have been able to incorporate what I have learned into my own teaching practices. Some of my biggest take-aways include more strategies that I can use to meet the needs of all of my students and learning how I can become an instructional leader in my district.

My goal, as I finish this program, is to continue to look for leadership opportunities that I can take an active role in while still being a classroom teacher. I know, without a doubt, that remaining in the classroom with my students is what I am meant to do. But, now knowing that I can become an effective teacher leader has inspired me to think outside of the box. To continue with my professional development, I plan to continue attending workshops and conferences where I can bring valuable teaching strategies and resources back to my colleagues. I also plan to work towards a second master’s degree.

Continuing to learn and expand my knowledge in best practices of teaching and leading are extremely important to me, and I look forward to continuing my journey as an elementary teacher with many more tools in my teaching toolbox.

Students in the C&I program are empowered to have meaningful  personal input into their learning, and their suggestions for improving the program are welcome and taken to heart. Though they have earned their Master’s degree, they will always remain a valued member of the Concordia family and learning community. This parting comment by Shawn P (Cohort 1 Spring 2012) sums up why a C&I Master’s degree.

“Concordia’s program is challenging, rigorous, it stretches and pulls you. I felt the impact of this program from the beginning, but what a difference it has made. The knowledge base, confidence and leadership skills I’ve acquired are immense.

With each class I gained. Whether it be knowledge, skill, perspective or discipline I grew. The instructors are all well prepared, trained and good leaders. People often ask me what I think of the program at Concordia. I tell them what a positive experience it has been. I tell them I feel like I’ve grown in many ways. I tell them that I feel like I know how to lead.”

Interested to discover how you can enjoy our fully online Master of Education in Curriculum & Instruction program? Learn more about it today.

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