For the past few years I've been researching various PhD and Doctorate programs in Education and finally I took the plunge and applied for the one that really stood out to me last November: The Doctor of Education in the University of Bath. To be honest I really didn't think I had much chance of being offered a place so only told a couple of friends. One being the Head of our Maths Department, Jason Murphy. He seemed keen too and we kind of pushed each other to actually follow through on all the chat and apply. In fact it was Jason who applied first and when I got that text from him that simply said "application sent" I knew I had to do it too.
The 6 week turn around deadline came and went just before we left for winter break so we both silently thought "oh well, at least we tried". But then, just a few days before the program is supposed to start I received an email from the University of Bath admissions team apologizing for the delay as a key person had been off for a month on leave. The email was an "unconditional offer" and they sincerely hoped I could get everything organized to join next week. I was absolutely ecstatic. This was something like a life long goal I'd set myself about 10 years ago and now it was going to begin. (Yes, I am aware there is the little matter of 4 years of study plus a Doctoral thesis still to come!!). So the last few days have been hectic filling of forms, registrations and emailing colleagues to ensure everything would be in place to cover my absence.
The best part though - Jason was also offered a place so we will start together... in 3 days time!! Luckily we both work in a school that supports us fully where getting the release time and class cover was never an issue. We have a really vibrant professional learning program headed up by Dr. Paul Magnuson and a new Educational Research department this year you can read more about here that is always there to help us and support us with improving our practice.
This is the common response I heard whenever I mentioned my desire to do a PhD to people who are doing a Doctorate or have done one already. Expect my business partner actually - the newly crowned Dr. Sean Foy of The Learning Curve Institute. He said what he always says "Do it man". Why do a Doctorate? Quite simple because I know I still have so much to learn. I want to be a better teacher. For me, engaging in professional learning and always trying to improve my practice keeps the job as exciting and makes me love it even more. Trying out a new approach, collaborating with colleagues about teaching ideas and discovering what the evidence and research says are all things that keep the job fresh and alive. I love teaching and I love learning and there are always things I know I can do better. I want to be better at my job. I want my students to be genuinely happy and love coming to my classes. I'm still a long way off achieving these elusive goals but hopefully the Doctorate will allow me to research some areas that will bring me closer to achieving them in the future.