Dear Stephani: Keep Going

7 years ago, I was a 16 (almost 17) year old girl with big plans to run away. I had been flirting with the boy that I thought I had wanted to marry all summer, I was preparing to start my senior year of high school, and I my life (and body) had drastically changed since the year before. Big things were coming my way, I was finally going to get out of the small town I had called home. I didn’t know where I was going – probably the U.S. Air Force at the time – but I knew it would be at least 300 miles away from Nowhere-Eastern-Washington.

Then, on my 17th birthday, my life changed. I met a new boy. Slowly, my life started to throw me closer to him. We worked together, but I thought he had a girlfriend. The boy I was flirting with all summer broke my heart, and the boy at work turned out to be single. By October, 2008, we were going on dates (basically courting) and all of a sudden my life planned changed. No more Summer-Boy, no more running away, no more Air Force, no more leaving, just Calvin.

By December 2008, only two months after we officially set our relationship to boyfriend-girlfriend, I realized that I didn’t want to be anywhere in the world that this boy wasn’t. I could live anywhere, in any condition, as long as this tall, kind, and lovable person was next to me. In June 2009, mere days after I graduated from high school, I moved (the rest of) my stuff to his place; which was a room he rented from a friend of his in a huge house full of other people. Then a few months later, we got our own apartment. A dingy, one bedroom with lots of space for our few things. We didn’t have a couch, so we put two chairs next to each other, threw a blanket over them, and called it a love seat. Slowly, our lives grew. We got a dog, we changed jobs, we moved back to my mom’s to save money, we moved again to get out of my mom’s, we moved again for school, we moved again because of mold, then we got a cat, we moved across the state, and then we moved back. And now, 7 years later, we’re back in the town where we started.

Trying to get rid of the crap we’ve accumulated that doesn’t support our relationship (extra books, knick-knacks, etc.). We’re trying to find that simplicity we had when we were broke; but so far, all we’ve found is being broke again. But this time, I have a Master’s degree and he’s dropped out of college. This isn’t the path we set out on, but it’s the one we’ve chosen because those plans – the steps you’re supposed to follow – they weren’t working either. I honestly think we’d be happier if we’d never incurred the car or credit card debt we got as we followed those arbitrary rules of growing up. We were looking at house that cost half a million dollars, wondering how we’d ever be able to afford something like that. The answer, the one we stopped pursuing, was what brought us back here: a bigger “better” job to pay for the crap we have and the crap we thought we were supposed to have.

Something that hasn’t changed in 7 years, something I wish I could tell my 16 (almost 17) year old self? You’re never really going to know what to do, and that’s okay. You still want nothing more than to be around that boy – now man – no matter where you are, except now you have a cat and a dog you want to have around too. You still crave being held by him when things get tough, because it’s like everything melts away when he holds you. You’re still scared, and you still want to run away, because you don’t know where you belong; except this time, you don’t want to do it alone. And that boy that broke your heart, and the 5 or 10 others before him, none of them matter because you found the one that wants nothing more than to make sure that no one – including him – ever breaks your heart again; and you feel the same way about him. You both work so well together, it’s why you’re trying to start a business together. You don’t have that smooth, give-and-take ability to work with anyone else the same way you can work with him. And yes, he will marry you. Sure, he waits longer than you think he should, but then you’re glad you both wait as long as you did because you discovered things you never thought possible. And the most important thing is this: you’re going to be okay. RIght now, I’m terrified, but I’m also amazed at how far I’ve come. It’s been 7 years, and I’m still terrified inside, but it’s because I don’t want to let that 16-year-old girl down.

Sometimes I’m worried about disappointing others, but that lasts only briefly because I’ve never really cared what others thought of me. I’m more concerned about liking me for I was, am, and will be. I never want to look back and be ashamed that I was too scared, or too rude; I want to be a good person, someone that I can always be proud of. So this is as much a letter to 16-year-old me as it is to future me. I’ve written many of these letters, remembering the tears that ran down my cheeks and the fear that swelled inside me, and I’ve always seemed to find them at a time in my life where I’ve finally turned whatever bad situation I’ve encountered around, but this is my first public letter to future-me.

Dear Stephani, are you still scared? Because right now you’re sitting in the basement in College Place wondering where your life is going. You’re crying because you can’t tell if you’re proud, disappointed, or a little bit of both. You’re wondering if you’re going to be able to pay the bills, if you’re going to be able to buy groceries, or if you’re going to be able to take care of the pets if something bad happens to either one of them. You’re worried about whether you’re worrying too much, or just the right amount for your situation. You’ve just finished your master’s degree, and you’re scared, but all you want to do is change the world. Did you do it? Have you made the changes in your life, in your community, that you wanted to make? I think you have, because you always do.

PS – I’m proud of you, wherever you are right now.



Some people might think it’s weird for me to talk to myself, but these letters have kept me going more times than I can count. They’ve reassured me, and they remind me that I need to celebrate every battle I win against myself. I haven’t written one for awhile, and with everything that I’ve accomplished in the last year, I really needed the reminder that I am here, I am proud of myself, and I deserve both.

I hope that this inspires everyone that reads this to believe in themselves. It can be grueling to truly believe in ourselves, to love ourselves, but we should never be ashamed to do either. Having confidence, and pride, in our accomplishments is not narcissistic, it’s fuel for our future endeavors, it’s survival, it is how we remind ourselves to keep pushing when we feel like giving up.

Thank you for following my blog. Thank you for following my journey. I look forward to sharing many more of these roadblocks with you in the future.

I love you all!


Graduate Research Paper

Guess what?!

I am officially done with graduate school!! After 12 months of hard work, dedication, sleepless nights, and a ton of fun: I’m done! Accompanying my success is the final paper for my action research project. My paper is an ethnographic depiction of the research I conducted to improve failure experience communication strategies and self-efficacy reflection strategies to improve a Learner’s self-efficacy and motivation to pursue learning activities. In my research, I utilized the Learner’s video game hobby as a conduit to alter the Learner’s self-efficacy and perception of failure.

If you are interested in reading my paper, go to or click here for the PDF. I hope you enjoy reading my paper.

Thank you for sticking with me! Have a great day :)

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Planning My Future (i.e., Looking Ahead)

This purpose of this post is to act as a comprehensive, 2-year plan for my husband, our pets, and I. Including becoming more nomadic (i.e., less overwhelmed with material items and excessive living space); therefore, reducing our expenses.

Part 1: Reflection – Please respond to the following questions:

How has your view of yourself as a professional changed in the last year?

I used to view myself on a linear path of success: “If I do this, than this. In x-amount of time, I will be [this] successful.” Shortly before cadre camp, I learned that my professional self does not work like that. Sometimes things are out of my control, and I have become more and more okay with that. Professional-Stephani also hates working in an office, loves being around her dog 24/7, and enjoys working 7pm-3am instead of 7am-3pm. I hate being worried about people wondering where I’m going, where I’m doing my work, etc. Some days I want to work on my couch, some days I want to work in a library, some days I want to work in a park; I want the ability to make that choice. I also hate wearing a fancy clothes, I much prefer jeans, sweats, or a dress.

Answer Summary: Professional-Stephani prefers a casual, remote/option to work from home professional lifestyle, with work from 7pm to 3am instead of the 7am to 3pm. I want to be a nomadic professional.

What is one positive thing that you have learned about yourself in the last year?

I am strong, I am smart, and I can do a lot of amazing things with my seemingly unrelated pieces of education.

What is one negative thing that the last year has shown you about yourself?

I lack self-efficacy (a dose of irony anyone?), I’m scared to try things I’m passionate, I am terrified of losing my financial support aka terrified of being homeless. I still put too much on my plate at once, but it comes from the fear of not having enough money to pay the bills.

What is your biggest strength as a professional?

I am truly smart, plus I learn quickly, I work very hard when I share a missions with others, and I am loyal to the core.

What is your biggest weakness as a professional?

I try too hard to please everyone, I have too many ideas and not enough actions, I spread my concentration too thin.

Imagine you are in the perfect job for you, doing exactly what you want to be doing at a very high level.  You go to a professional conference as the keynote speaker.  What does the person introducing you say?

“Stephani’s work has focused on helping students of every type; from professionals in industry to students in elementary school. She believes that everyone deserves to learn, and that everyone is capable of pursuing their interests. Her self-efficacy research has helped millions of learners around the world pursue and accomplish their goals.”

What external obstacles  are standing in the way of you becoming that person?
(Ordered obstacles from greatest to least importance)
  1. Lack of guaranteed/stable income
  2. Cost of therapist (working on my depression)
  3. Need to connect with people/places
  4. Medical bills
  5. Work
  6. Cat and dog (the cat more than the dog, since the dog travels very well)
What internal obstacles are standing in the way of you becoming that person?
(no particular order)
  • Anxiety
  • Low, self-confidence
  • Fear of disappointing or failing others
What attitudes and beliefs are holding you back?
  • That I have to have my family’s support (even though most of what I’ve accomplished was without their support)
  • That if I mess up again, people won’t want to help us
  • That it’s all on my shoulders, when it’s not.

Part 2: Planning – Please respond to the following questions:

What 3 things do you need to learn to achieve your goal?
  1. How to build a database
  2. How to develop, arrange, and present a seminar at a college (with long-term support materials)
  3. How to develop, balance, and produce a card game (building a deck building game for passive income)
Describe 3 people that you need to connect with in order to move closer to your goal.
  1. Dr. Bill Moseley-type of person (Comp. Sci. person)
  2. Walla Walla Community College TRiO program counselors
  3. Dr. Mark Chen and other members of IGDA
  4. Debby and Steve Kurti – RV traveling advice
Who are the gatekeepers on the path to your goal?
  1. Myself
  2. Calvin, who will be coding the majority of the website we’re developing
Who are your biggest supporters?  How can you use their support to help you?


  1. Calvin (my husband)
  2. My friends (Whitney, Nick, Paul, Kristi, Clune, and many others)
  3. Our family


  1. Not be afraid to talk to him about what’s going on (continue to encourage counseling)
  2. Continue to talk with them about my goals. Continue to plan meetings/discussions about my ideas
  3. Continue to talk about my goals and ideas. If needed, they may have spare room for Calvin and I
What groups should you be a part of?  How do you join them?
  • IGDA (International Game Developers Association): already joined
  • TRiO Alumni group: Need to research or make one
  • Online coding group/community
How should you market yourself as a professional for maximum impact, and who should you market yourself to?
  • Me: Educational Researcher with a need to empower others through learning, technology, confidence building exercises, and fun! Supported by a Bachelor of Arts degree in Technical Communication, and a Master of Arts degree in Instructional Technologies. Over 4 years of professional writing experience, 3 years of instructional design experience, and a lifelong plan to understand the psychology of learning, motivation, communication, and failure.
  • To: Universities, Colleges, Professors, and School Counselors/Advisors

Part 3: Action – Use the following timeline to chart your path, starting with a two-year goal and working backward.

In two years, I want to have accomplished the following:
  • Pay off our car
  • Live in Skoolie (aka school bus converted to RV)/traveling full-time
  • Website up and running, game published and selling (i.e., constant, passive income)
  • Build nationwide connections and conducting research with TRiO, as well as presenting research to other TRiO offices and other programs
  • Planning steps to travel internationally
  • Start writing book
In one year, I want to have accomplished the following:
  • Pay off medical bills
  • Buy and start living in Skoolie
  • Have entire emergency savings put away
  • Build connections with TRiO statewide, start presenting and conducting research
  • Publish and market website
  • Prototype and market game
  • Quit non-remote job(s)!!!!!
  • Purge remaining, non-essentials
In six months, I want to have accomplished the following:
  • Stabilize income and hours, prune useless work
  • Pay off credit card bills
  • Connect with WWCC TRiO
  • Build presentation and seminar
  • Schedule presentations with WWCC TRiO, start research
  • Have half of our entire emergency savings put away
  • Start selling/donating belongings
  • Finish first prototype of website
  • Finish game design and alpha
  • Start patreon, blog, YouTube, podcast, instagram
  • Get business LLC for Wilkes’ Technical
  • Complete plans for Skoolie renovation
By August 1, I want to have accomplished the following:
  • Start making larger contributions to savings
  • Finish grad school (by July 15th)
  • Make connections with local TRiO office
  • Build presentation and seminar (multi-week presentation)
  • Connect with Debby and Steve Kurti about RV living
  • Start researching database building, connect with Bill or other suggested experts
Before July 7, when this assignment is due, I have completed the following steps:
  • Found a stable job:
    • Went to interviews
    • Lined up job at RiteAid
  • Finished first project for Prime 8
    • Discussing next projects
    • Discussing multiple projects per month instead of working at RiteAid
  • Wrote goals and objectives list
  • Organized budget
  • Started saving money to savings account
What can you do to help yourself complete these steps?
  • Keep this list
  • Start collecting names and contact info for people
  • Prioritize tasks for each stage

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MALT COG Tools (#9) and Action Research (#8) Journal: Embracing All Types of Failure

Recently I started looking at positive and negative failure experiences. Positive failure experiences provide the learner an opportunity to learn from the experience (e.g., failures in scientific experiments are positive). Negative failure experiences do not allow for learning (e.g., failures that result inconsistently, or without logical explanation).

Even more recently, I was let go from my contract with I was told that my skills were not compatible with the position. Even though no one – including myself – enjoys the sensation of being let go (i.e., laid off, fired, termination, etc.), being let go is a positive failure experience. Unfortunately, emotions do not determine whether or not an experience is a positive or negative learning experience.

What Happened

I was told that my skills were incompatible with the needs of the position. If I am being honest, I agree for a few reasons: the environment was not ideal for me, and the position skill set required at least two more years of experience than what I had.

What I did

After the breathtaking phone call, I cried. A lot. Truthfully, I broke down, had a panic attack, and cried and cried and cried. Then I washed my face off, patted it dry with a towel, and thought about all the time I would have to spend with my husband, our pets, and our family during this holiday season.

I feel it is important to note that I am not pushing my emotions aside, or ignoring the sometimes overwhelming fear of losing a job right before Christmas. I am scared, sad, angry, in denial, all of that. Recognizing and owning my emotions has always been a huge aspect of learning from life experiences. Never force your emotions behind a wall; embrace your emotions, gather their energy, and use that energy to move yourself forward. If that means crying, or sobbing, do it. All of it is a part of moving forward.

Since then, I have thought about what I really want right now. I found that I am ready to transition into becoming an Education Facilitator: either as a Technical Trainer or an Educational Instructor.

What I want

I want to help people. I want to ignite (or reignite depending on the person) the passion to learn within at least one person. I do not just mean traditional, formal education. I mean, good ole’ learning that can happen anywhere, on any topic. I want to motivate people to learn about those things that interest and matter most to them. But most of all, I want to help someone find their happiness. I want everyone I help to love learning, and to own their knowledge.

It is a rather cheesy hope, but that’s what I want.

All of this came from losing my job. It took awhile. In fact, it took me two weeks to write this blog. I started it a few days after I lost the job. But I have finally finished it because I finally know where I want to be. I am still working on how to get there, but I’m sure – with a little more time – I’ll find it. It is important to note that everyone’s capacity to handle failure varies. For some, it will take much longer to recover; maybe even more or fewer supportive figures in their life.The most important thing to remember is that everyone is capable of learning from failure, they just have to be willing to open their minds and try. Every positive, failure experience is worth it because there is a lesson to be learned.

As we all enter the new year, I hope you look at every failure experience in hopes of finding lessons, or at least a little bit more about yourself.

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MALT Action Research — Fall Journal #7

Today I learned that I am on the right track for my research. Not necessarily because I agree with Carl Rogers (see COG Tools journal #8); but because I let fear hold me back. I was afraid of my self-perceived low intelligence. In other words, I evaluated my intelligence as low, and let that hold me back.

My research focuses on exactly that. It focuses on how low, self-efficacy negatively affects intrinsic motivation to complete tasks. It took me a solid five hellish hours to narrow down my research scope. I was distracted by buzzwords and my self-evaluation. But my action research proved to be effective when I worked with someone – who had less data about my research than I do – and discovered what was and what was not important for the paper.

In the semiotic domain of technical writer, this is called usability testing. I tested my paper’s structure on the audience, and adjusted according to their basic understanding of my conclusions.

In the semiotic domain of relationships, this is called supporting a loved one through thick and thin (my husband helped me with the break down today; yesterday my mom helped me).

In the semiotic domain of education, this is called social learning; or a community of practice.

In light of all of the above mentioned events, I found out that I inadvertently performed my first cycle of my action research on my chosen learner. My husband – who inspired my study of learners with low, self-efficacy – revealed that our discussions about my studies (which started in July and are focused on the importance of failure in learning) have inspired him to:

  1. Reflect on his past experience with learning
  2. Pin-point past instances of failure
  3. Create action plan for success in future learning endeavors, therein
  4. Become excited to return to school

My first cycle of my research worked all on its own, simply by providing the necessary resources for the learner to reflect in a way they were not previously aware of. Additionally, my language about failure for myself has changed, therefore causing my husband to change the way he talks to me about failure, and reflects on failure. Finally, including him in my learning process – showing him that he knows more than he thought – increased his self-confidence while evaluating previous events. The solution was born in the research of the problem, without either of us knowing until we accidentally evaluated it tonight.

There is nothing more exciting than an accident leading to a positive result in research.

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MALT COG Tools — Fall Journal #8: Not Yet a Fully Functioning Person

For me, COG Tools (the series of classes based on cognitive learning) is about discovery the theories about how humans learn, and then applying those theories to myself. Not so surprisingly, I relate best to constructionism. If you know anything about constructionism, you know that putting those two sentences together is redundant; if you know nothing about constructionism, a quick search on Google will help you out. But I digress.

Recently, I learned that I am not yet a fully functioning person (according to Carl Rogers). I am not insulted by that realization, which also means that I am on my way to becoming a fully functioning person. In Wikipedia lists Rogers’s characteristics of a fully functioning person as:

  1. A growing openness to experience
  2. An increasingly existential lifestyle
  3. Increasing organismic trust
  4. Freedom of choice
  5. Creativity [in solving problems]
  6. Reliability and constructiveness
  7. A rich full life

It might seem counter-intuitive, at first, for me to have a pinned post talking about how I’m a great person to hire, and then post about not being a fully functioning person; however, I think that it is imperative that I know my weaknesses. In my opinion, that makes me an even better person to hire.

Above all, though, I think it is has been great for me to realize where I belong in the realm of education. As animals, humans are interested in finding what does and does not work. I am glad to announce that my mind works. I have learned a great deal about myself – my goals, the way I learn, and my values – simply by learning about Carl Rogers’s theory. I have, actually, made some pretty big decisions about my future based on his theory: because it fits (i.e., it works with me). His theory about student-centered learning, the idea of learning facilitators rather than teachers, the fully functioning person, and his 19 prepositions; all of these fit into something I thought I could not explain before. Rather, fit into a part of me I knew was there but never connected.

Maybe someday I too will be a famous learning theorist, or a famous educational psychologist; but until then, I am on my way to becoming a fully functioning person.

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MALT COG Tools — Fall Journal #7: The Ghost of Carl Rogers … or something like that

Life Story Summary #1:

  • Religious up-bringing
  • Life altering change at the age of 12, resulting in a strict upbringing, tedious chores, and subsequent life of isolation, independence, and self-discipline
  • Studied agriculture in undergrad, changed degree to study Theology. Questioned religious belief throughout college
  • Left the theological world to study Psychology
  • Believed in student-centered learning

Life Story Summary #2:

  • Religious up-bringing
  • Life altering change change at the age of 12, resulting in a strict upbringing, tedious chores, and a subsequent life of isolation, independence, and self-discipline
  • Studied Writing in undergrad, instructional design in graduate school, and considered Psychology as a degree. Abandoned religious belief during college
  • Believes in student-centered learning.

Maybe we’re not identical, but I feel like a nature vs. nurture conversation could erupt from the similarities; or at least some sort of research discussion on what kind of people believe in student-centered learning. Also, is it really any coincidence that he died in 1987 (the year my mother graduated from high school) and I was born in 1991? I believe in reincarnation, and I would love to be able to claim that I am Carl Rogers, reincarnate in cis-female form.

Rogers’s Fully Functional Person

If that doesn’t convince you, then maybe the fact that we both believe (believed for him, since he died in 1987) in a few similar fundamentals. If I’m being honest, his 7 traits of a fulfilled person remind me of the Eightfold Path in Buddhism (is reincarnation really too far off if Buddhism is connected? huh, huh?)

  1. A growing openness to experience: Slowly releasing fear of the unknown
  2. An increasingly existential lifestyle: Living in the moment and embracing spontaneity
  3. Increasing organismic trust: Trusting one’s self to make the right decision; and make decisions based on the moment
  4. Freedom of choice: Believing in free will, and that they must live with the consequences of their decisions
  5. Creativity: Being a more creative thinker. Someone that does not try to recreate the wheel, but does solve problems creatively
  6. Reliability and constructiveness: Owning one’s different feelings, reactions, and needs, and then building on them or using them to move forward in life; or, using them to learn
  7. A rich full life: Experiencing, and recognizing, all of the facets of life, and creating them as equally necessary experiences (happiness and sadness, anger and bliss, hope and regret, etc.)

Since the beginning of my undergrad work (primarily when I took Asian Philosophy in community college), I have attempted to bring the above 7 aspects into my life. I struggle, daily, with number 1.

Sometimes I almost feel as though I am agoraphobic, and number 7 severely conflicts with the constant fear of everything. Since being with my husband, though, my fears are not quite as overwhelming. Most of them come from a childhood where I was left home alone far too often.

Numbers 2 through 5 have always been easiest for me to grasp, since I was often alone and had to make decisions for myself. Furthermore, since I had a lot of alone time for reflection, I constantly ask questions. While it can be an annoying trait, questions often lead me to new, creative solutions others are too afraid, or too uninformed, to discover.

Number 6, most prominently in the last year or two, has become almost a motto for me. Especially when someone I know is sad, angry, or hurt by another. Too often we are told to forgive and forget, but it is expected that the emotions be resolved immediately. I am a proponent of owning one’s feelings, and using them to understand how a situation actually affects us. I agree that making decisions in an emotional state can sometimes be dastardly, but there is nothing wrong with taking time to recognize how we feel when something goes wrong. It’s the same reason that our bodies feel pain when something hurts or damages us physically. It’s meant to register that something is, well, damaging us physically. Emotions allow us to register how we are being hurt (and sometimes damaged) emotionally. Excusing, or pushing aside, emotions is known to do long term damage. Like when a person who takes pain killers after an injury. The person cannot accurately gauge their progress to healing if they remain under the influence. It can lead to muscle degeneration, or sometimes the entire use of limbs. Pain, and emotion, are necessary in life.

Number 6 ties well into number 7: we need life experiences to grow. Failure tells how not to complete a task in the future. Science is all about trial and error. Hypothesis form from pre-existing knowledge of all failures and successes. Number 7, in my opinion, ties all of the previous aspects in nicely. It is the ribbon on the educational present. We must experience loss and gain, happiness and sadness, etc. to carry on in our life, and to learn new things.

All in all, I may not be Rogers’s ghost (still room for investigation of course), but do agree with him on many points. He has his 19 propositions as well, but that – along with the 5 hypotheses on student-centered learning – need to be in a separate post all together.

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MALT Action Research — Fall Journal #6

How to Start the Research

  • Observe the problem
  • Define the question
  • Figure out how to answer the question (hypothesis)
  • Self-assessment (pre- and post-“training”)
  • What does a “good ” result look like?

Measurement and Notes

  • Self-reflection
  • Notes and observations

Tools to Research: EQ, HR measurement tools; industry tools

Draft Plan for Cycle #1

  • Complete an overview session of our plan
  • Complete journal for self-reflection. Questions:
    • How do you feel when you mess up in school?
    • How do you feel when you fail at a task?
    • How do you feel when you succeed at a task?
    • Do you think you’re smart?
    • How do you feel when people call you smart?
    • What is your general feeling towards school?
    • Do you like learning new things?
    • What helps you learn new things?
  • Dedicate one night to video games or board games (the student will teach me to use a new game each week)
  • Complete reflection journals every other week
  • Encourage student to work in leadership workbook every other week, after journal

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MALT COG Tools — Fall Journal #6: Technical Writers are …

Since 2012 or so, I have stated that Technical Writing and Instructional Design are basically the same thing, but one focuses on back-end support while the other focuses front-end support. But now, I’m not so sure. I think, now, they might be more comparable in the sense of a square and a rectangle. Instructional Design is Technical Writing, but Technical Writing is not Instructional Design.

Instructional Design is the square in the metaphor. Instructional Design (like a square) follows similar, basic principles of Technical Writing (the rectangle). Both concentrate on topic, audience, purpose, and format, and then write objectively. But there are so many more rules required to define Instructional Design. Technical Writing is really any form of educational/procedural/instructional form of writing: grants, software instructions, website content, etc. Unfortunately, many people write technical documents, few write them well.

Instructional Design requires people to understand learning theories, curriculum design principles, technology, psychology, etc.

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MALT Action Research — Fall Journal #5

I’ve been mentally working on my research plan. I know it doesn’t seem very effective, but because the subject is so close to home there’s an internal battle accompanying my every thought.

I’ve been considering, lately, what it was like to be a teenager. I’m trying to remember times when I was not being grumpy, or times I wasn’t crying that life wasn’t fair. Not necessarily the cause, but why I reacted that way in particular.

My conclusion is that I never gad the words to express what I wanted. I didn’t need someone to tell me what to do or how to do it, but I need someone to help me understand how to express what I wanted to do and how to do it. Teenagers are very similar to toddlers, and I mean that in the most respectful way possible. Both timelines are at an awkward stage in human development. As toddlers, we are transitioning from helpless creatures of habit to semi-autonomous, tiny humans. As teenagers, we are transitioning from semi-autonomous tiny humans to fully-autonomous, full-grown human beings. However, this time, we’re expected to flap our wings or die as parental-figure bird kicks our squaking butt out of the nest. We’re also being taught, in school primarily, that failure is never an option. So, we assume that we have to know what we’ll be doing for the rest of our lives as we also attempt to enjoy the last four years of comfortable, mostly carefree living, or we’ll be labeled total failures.

No pressure though, right? Just be a kid, do what you’re told, but while you’re at it, start thinking about this huge life decision because in a few years you’re going to be out on your own into you (possibly) find a mate.

No wonder teenagers are always crying, depressed, or angry. And the ones who don’t have it that easy (because they’re forced to be financially independent earlier than their peers for one reason or another) are probably even angrier.

My hypothesis is that the problem lies in the language. When we are toddlers, we’re asked what we want help with, how we plan to do it, etc. We are told, as teenagers either exactly how to do it, or to figure it out on our own. But we should be asked the same questions as teenagers that we were asked as toddlers, but with more age appropriate tone of voice. Then, we should reflect – as a team of parental-figure and teenager – what we tried, how we succeeded, how we failed, and what we learned. Then we can move to the parental-figure asking how we want them to help us.

That’s what it should be. Teenagers have as much control of their lives as most people working 9-5 jobs with a manager. As a 9-5’er, we request help, permission, etc. on various topics. We like to have some autonomy, but we also like some structure. We want to be busy, but not swamped. But most of all, we want a leader, not a dictator or an absent ruler.

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