My first attempt at brevity in blogging . . .ummm. . . “microblogging” technically speaking. A little more than Twitter, much less than my typical 1200-words-plus posts.
My chosen format: a postcard.
Why? several reasons:
– my successive reflections will focus on setting — classroom setting — and my story within that setting. What better medium than a postcard to showcase setting and its significance?
– a postcard tells a story — and since I’ve been learning about difference approaches to digital storytelling, it’s an apt format.
– the small area of a postcard will force me to distill my previous week’s learnings into the essential elements focusing upon a key theme. This week’s theme: what is the goal of learning? Should it be rigor? Joy? or something else
– clarity with visuals: I’m banking on the saying, ” A picture is worth a thousand words.”
– mental fatigue: At the end of some teaching days, I lack the acuity to formulate an articulate post with which I’m satisfied. The English teacher in me is a harsh self-critic.
– engagement: o.k. — straight-out fun! I enjoy expressing myself creatively — and hope that anyone reading my posts will enjoy or at least appreciate my efforts.
– knowing that “less is more” sometimes. One of my profs has encouraged my cohort to microblog. I feel that I have permission to say less!
I’m taking a course related to open and online learning in my Master’s of Education Program while engaging in Professional development activities related to Inquiry Learning, and most recently Backwards Design (to be the topic of postcard #2). Current learnings prompt me to reflect on how I’ve developed as a teacher over two decades — and what I wish I’d been able to implement at this time.
My first epiphanies:
These images represent my classroom setting in 2015 — community-oriented, collaborative, and creative — in face-to-face and online settings. Twenty years ago — it was rows only. Online meant word processing — email was an emerging communication when I began teaching. The internet — a few years later. Yes, my age (or rather, “experience,”) is showing.
Second, I no longer ascribe to the “official learning theory” — and I’m certain that “rigor” appeared on more than one of my course outlines. Although I never intended to follow the exact denotation of the word — I wonder what kind of tone and expectations it set for my students? For anyone wondering about official learning theory vs. classical learning theory, this chart is useful.
Following my learning in an online session led by Dean Shareski, I know what I think, how I’ve best taught over the years, and how I know students best learn, based on the attributes I see that represent “joy,” or for anyone preferring a less warm-and-fuzzy terminology, “classical learning theory.
If I could mail myself a postcard back in time, it would look like this — but populated with my present students, sharing ideas across the classroom — engaged, enthused, and excited about learning — and truly absorbing the essential ideas of the courses.
For any beginning teacher, I’d say this: work hard, prepare thoroughly, but allow your students — and yourself — to enjoy learning. Journey on some tangents, allow your lessons to morph from lesson and unit structures, foster an inquiry-based approach, embrace questions. Joy in learning = joy in teaching!