Student Spotlight

“This degree has helped me get this job.” Erin Machajewski works as Instructional Technologist for White Settlement K4 schools. 

Erin Machajewski is a current student in the College of Education, pursuing her Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in Instructional Design and Technology. Erin currently teaches in White Settlement, where she has worked for ten years. She taught English for the first nine, and then transitioned to the Instructional Technology department where she works as the Instructional Technologist for the K4 campuses. Erin stated that her master’s education from Tarleton helped her to have the opportunity for the position. 

Erin is married to Daniel, and they reside in west Fort Worth along with their two dogs (or as Erin referred to them, “furry children”). Erin says she likes to read, loves music, especially live music shows, and she is a huge fan of strong coffee. 

Learn more about Erin in the following conversation.

COGS: How did you learn about Tarleton State University’s graduate programs?

EM:  In the past when I was teaching English, I hosted four student teachers, and two were from Tarleton. They were fabulous! I thought ‘holy mackerel’. I don’t like to compare people, but if we are preparing programs and how Tarleton prepped their teachers, they were way more adept and ready to be in the classroom than my other student teachers. 

COGS: Tell us about your research.

EM:  I was going to go the Capstone route, and then I took Dr. Barkley for my research class, and I enjoyed it so much! I love to write, but I didn’t realize how much I was going to enjoy the research class. I really got along well writing and came across a topic that played into me being an English teacher also. I decided to change the route I was on and do a thesis. My topic is looking at the effects of collaboration and using synchronized feedback—and specifically the commenting tool in Google docs—in 6th grade students academic writing attempts. I am having kids work in groups of three to collaboratively develop academic writing pieces, and then using that writing tool to give each other feedback and enhance the writing to making it better. I’m then looking at the effects of the collaborative approach and using that tool. The research so far shows that it is positive. It helps students become better writers. I even saw that in my own classroom, but I am looking to confirm and support all of that. 

COGS: How do you balance your own school-work with your job and other important obligations like family?

EM: I write or work or study or get online at the same time every week. I start earlier before it’s crunch time. I know it sounds silly, but sometimes a paper calendar works better than my Google calendar because I can put in a million notes and highlight and underline and color. Make schedules, make lists, use a calendar, and start early like at the beginning of your week with all of your homework instead of Sunday night.

COGS: What is a typical day like for you as a Tarleton grad student?

EM: My hours at work are 8-4:30. If it is a day my husband is at work, I will go home, take care of my dogs and do a couple of things around the house, and then I will go straight to this coffee shop that I frequent called Avoca coffee and work for a couple hours, then come home, start dinner, and begin my whole day again. Now, if my husband isn’t at work, I won’t go work on grad stuff. I’ll stay home and so we can spend time together. On weekends, though, a lot of my Saturdays are spent on my computer at that coffee shop. I don’t work well at home because there are too many things that get in my way. The music, the TV, the animals, laundry to be done, dishes to be done … those distractions don’t work well for me, so I have to leave the house and go work somewhere else.

COGS: What are your future plans?

EM: I think the degree will definitely be a stepping stone so that I can go and do lots of other things. I wrote curriculum for my district for years, and even though my emphasis is in instructional design and technology, that instructional design part, and the fact that it is a Curriculum and Instruction degree, could also help me move into the curriculum and instruction department and work as an instructional coach, or potentially be a leader in the district over curriculum and instruction or test writing. That appeals to my personality. It also would potentially allow me to teach at a junior college and be an online instructor. Also, if I’ve got the time and the energy, going on to a doctoral program and being able to be a professor would be interesting as well.


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