Suddenly, I turn around and my first semester of grad school is over. Once the grads are posted, I will be assigned 17 credits, leaving me a mere 16 credits to go before I have my Master’s Degree.What a whirl. During the fifteen week semester it has often felt like I was on a treadmill, going to high school, going to classes, doing the reading and homework. Repeat fifteen times. As a result, I often grumbled that I have no idea if I was learning anything. Now that I can take a step back, I realize I have.Some of it will be immensely useful. The Exceptional Student course is vital since teachers will be dealing with special ed students throughout our careers and as budgets get tighter, it may well involve more inclusive classroom settings. We prepped for a final in that class, but yesterday our teacher brought in her 25 year old son, who has down’s syndrome. He came with prepared remarks because this remarkable man is comfortable talking about himself and his condition, having previously addressed other classes as part of his work as an ambassador for the Special Olympics, where he swims and plays touch football.What really enhanced the discussion was the arrival of his slightly younger sister who shooed mother and brother from the room and openly discussed what it was like growing up in the house. She was open to any and all questions and learning from them all was truly eye-opening.And while I adored my teacher for Philosophical Foundations for Education, the content of the course had little bearing on becoming a teacher or teaching in the classroom. She had us do non-philosophical group projects which is where the real learning took place.My New Technologies for Learning class taught me the most practical information and I watch how teachers at my high school have or have not embraced technology. Few seem to go beyond PowerPoint presentations to enliven the lessons but I have some ideas…The most useless class had to be my Reading for Content class given the teacher’s inability to take theory and show us how to put it into practice. The group projects we had helped crystalize some of it, but again, we were being taught strategies I have yet to see the high school teachers use.The two electives proved enlightening and fun so there were some upsides to be certain. Beyond the coursework, getting to interact with peers of all ages was terrific and it was fun bonding with one after another through the weeks.What’s next? On Wednesday, I begin my summer course to lighten the fall burden. At the end of the month, I will also take two online literature classes to satisfy the state, which feels I remained light in some areas. And in June I will take the grammar elective to also make the state happy.That leaves me all of July and August to recuperate and maybe do some reading for pleasure.The fall sees me taking three courses plus the second half of the high school internship so as the calendar winds down, I will be completing the degree requirements. Early 2012 will see me student teach for 12 weeks and then I’ll be finished. It’s an intensive amount of work, but all necessary and puts me in line to be hired for the fall 2012 school year which is exactly what I want.