If you follow along on my blog or know me, you are likely not at all surprised to see that title of this blog post. After all, learning is at the core of my identity as a person and a professional and any opportunity for development is worthwhile. Over the past couple of years, I have been exploring a doctorate degree in education, but the more that I speak with colleagues in the field with one or pursuing one, the more I am told not to do it. At first I was a little taken aback, especially from the people who had already completed one. I thought perhaps they had a poor experience or they didn't feel like the time commitment was worthwhile, but it is actually for a completely other reason ... they tell me to focus on something outside of education. Hmm... so I have been consulting with a lot of my friends in the field and the messaging continues to sound the same: don't do a general doctorate degree in education because you won't bring anything unique or different to the table, especially if you pursue an administrative position in the future. The more I thought about it, the more that made sense to me. What good is it if every administrator, director and manager has a doctorate in education? Where is the critical thinking? Innovative approach? Contrasting idea? Business acumen? Organization change perspective? So with that, I have decided to pause for a year or two so I can continue researching programs that really fit with the direction that I am hoping to go, which I think is more along the policy development lines. I want to help my institution create and implement policy that embraces student learning and assessment across all areas of campus to show the qualities, competencies, and capacity of our students when they graduate. Right now, I don't think a generalized doctorate of education will really help me with that.
So, what next? Well, as my consulting gig takes off, I have been thinking for quite some time about ways to be more formally engaged as a teacher and trainer. Although I completed concurrent education while doing my undergrad, I never formally graduated with a teaching degree because I opted to pursue a full time position instead of complete the last component of the program - the teaching placements. Despite having seven years of experience as a trainer, I was looking for an opportunity to enhance my in-person and online teaching ability, so I'm excited to be going back to school to complete a Certificate of Teaching and Training. I really think this will help me reframe teaching and training, offer some new nuggets of information, and hopefully give me some more information on best practices in the field. Because it's through a college, I know that it will be directly linked to employability standards within teaching and learning, and will be very applicable to what I do within my specific job and outside of it as well. So wish me luck as I jump back into student life and continue to be a better educator to students and peers!
August is my favourite month of the year. The days finally feel like summer, the nights are cooler and more comfortable, and of course, it is almost my birthday. The past few months I have spent a lot of time (and I mean a lot) trying to decide what I want to do for next steps of my career. I have explored more graduate programs, I have completed more professional development courses, and I have even designed my own professional development curriculum. As I continue to reflect on what I had read, written, learned, and done, I continue to wonder "how can I do more?". Because as much as all of these experiences have helped me to become a better professional, they have had little to no impact on supporting others in their own developmental journeys. After all, when I think about what my true purpose is, I keep coming back to my desire to help others find their purpose and paths. It's really no wonder that I love education - I find a sense of personal and professional fulfillment in helping others explore their life and future career.
Over the past few years, I have been asked to attend various professional development opportunities on campuses, and present at various conferences, to share my knowledge in learning assessment and/or career advising. It has always been something that I have genuinely and thoroughly enjoyed. I really appreciate opportunities to help other folks in the field better understand their next steps, and continue to enhance themselves and their programs. More recently, I was contacted by an Ontario institution to come as a professional consultant to host a day-long workshop, which really got my gears turning. When I initially read the email, there was an overwhelming amount of excitement, nerves, anxiety, and thrill. As I have been designing and thinking about what the day will look like with their needs in mind, I've decided to formally dive head first into the world of professional consulting! I am thrilled to be announcing Sara M. Wills Consulting (SWC), offering consulting services on assessment and evaluation, curriculum development (academic and co-curricular), and career exploration.
I will do my best to continue to share via social media the opportunities I have and the reflections I have gained throughout this process. After all, the learning never stops, and one of my favourite parts of advising and consulting is that there is equally as much to learn from those you work with, as they will learn from you. Wish me luck!
A creative educator striving to enhance the holistic student experience and committed to exploring personal strengths and fulfillment.