Authentic Teaching

Authentic teaching is something I have thought about in the past when I am in front of students. I have never taught a class before and teaching is not something that I hope to pursue in the future. However, within my field I will be facilitating workshops. I resonated with Deel’s reflection “Finding my Teaching Voice”, because I usually feel like I have imposter syndrome when I am in front of students. I am not a “edu-tainer” and do not conduct myself as someone who attempts to be comedic. What I care about is getting information across to students in a way that allows them to be engaged in their own learning process. However, this is something that I struggle with. Some of my peers and colleagues are able to make their presentations, workshops, or classes engaging through activities. Creativity with activities continues to be something that I am working on. Thus far my approach has been to provide hands-on learning and provide opportunities for questions. I have no problem repeating an exercise or attempting various ways to explain a concept. I do often wonder if it is enough. Sometimes activities seems like a time sucker and do not convey concepts in a memorable way.

Like Deel, I hope students will find me to be approachable, but I want them to use critical thinking skills. I want students to be able to learn information and gives them an opportunity to question what they are learning. In one of my classes a successful tool was team quizzes. Every student was required to do an individual quiz and team quiz to master readings. I do not agree with individual quizzes because I feel like they do not do a good job of measuring success. However, team quizzes were useful because peers rely on one another to come up with the correct answers. If students got an answer wrong they always had the opportunity to appeal and provide evidence to support their answers. Formal teaching in a classroom is not something that will be part of my career, but I consider myself to be an educator and will find my own way of authentic teaching.

Authentic Assessment

Is this going to be on the test? That is just one of the few questions that students care about in a classroom. Assessing how students are comprehending course material has become the most important part of education; rather then intentional learning. I believe that Lombardi and Kohn make good points about assessment being more than grades. Too often are concerned with their letter grade rather than what they are learning. I do not think that letter grades should go away, but how we evaluate students should be altered. Lombardi and Kohn both give examples of how authentic learning can take place. Additionally, Lombardi highlights the difference between traditional and authentic assessment.

By practicing authentic assessment, students can be assessed in a variety of moments and ways rather then by one culminating test or exam. Portfolios are a good example of how this can be achieved. Speaking as someone who has to complete an e-portfolio to meet my graduate capstone requirement, I believe that this method captures what and how I have learned. If my program required a thesis, I do not think it would be an accurate depiction of my learning or that I have completed the learning objectives and there outcomes. Examples like portfolios allows students to take ownership of their learning and use their experiences to prove how they have learned. I do not have an answer for how this should be addressed in the K-12 systems, but it is worthy to consider in how the United States can adapt learning and education.

Mindfulness, Learning, and Education

“Mindfulness is a flexible state of mind in which we are actively engaged in the present, noticing new things and sensitive to context.”

Mindfulness is not something that is a priority in the learning process. As someone who struggled through primary and secondary school I am against standardized testing. I am not attacking other disciplines and I am only speaking to my own experience. Math and science have never been easy to me. Once students entered middle school we were broken up into different math classes from 1-4. It does not take a genius to realize which class rank was the advanced math course and which was for the students that struggled with math concepts and needed more assistance. I was placed into “Math 4” with a variety of students, but the general assumption from classmates was that I was dumb, lazy, or “slow”. This was the only form of individualized learning I received, but the goal continued to be that each student passed the Standards of Learning (SOL) exams.

If my education had been different I may have chosen a different career path. I think mindfulness can take place outside of the classroom, but there just does not seem enough time to focus on mindfulness until students reach college. As a graduate student I feel like I have seen mindfulness play more of a role and take precedent over standardized learning. Every student is different and has different strengths therefore standardized testing does not make sense for younger students.

Lectures and Engagement

Access to higher education continues to be an issue in Higher Education, but degree completion is a rising issue as well.

“…one-third of students from even privileged socioeconomic backgrounds—top half of the income distribution, at least one parent with a college degree—fail to graduate.Such students quit not because they lack funds, but because they lack motivation and interest.”

Why is motivation and interest a problem in the United States education system? In my opinion, it is because students are not being challenged. Yes, students have assignments, comprehensive exams, and deadlines which are supposed to prove that they have mastered course material which can be hard to balance However, all this proves is that students are able to regurgitate and memorize information. For some disciplines it is necessary and acceptable that students memorize course material such as the STEM fields. Although I do not believe that students are taught properly in how to engage in the K-12 system or within undergraduate curriculum.

One of the main issues is “teaching to the test” when educators are expected to cover specific material in a short amount of time in order to prepare students for standardized testing. Freire’s (2012) “banking” concept explores the idea that students do not have the ability to critically think in class because they are expected to memorize information, rather than question it (p. 72). The idea that faculty are doing students a favor by passing along their knowledge is done to maintain control and seen as a “false generosity” (Freire, 2012, p. 44). It is no wonder that students lack interest in their courses. Within my core curriculum for my undergraduate degree I had some opportunities to engage in class, but my elementary and secondary education was focused on standardized testing. For the first time I found that I was coming to my own conclusions and thinking for myself after I enrolled in graduate school.

Within my academic program I have been taught to challenge and question my instructors and peers. Course material is no longer seen as black and white and class discussions no longer incorporate the idea of right and wrong answers. More importance has been placed on providing evidence from course readings and experiences to support my answers. So my question is how can educators engage students at all levels of education when standardized testing is the motive for students to do well?

Networked Learning

After reading Gardner Campbell’s Networked Learning As Experiential Learning, based on George Kuh’s work, I find myself having more questions. Kuh states that experiential learning includes mostly co-curricular activities such as: research, internships, service, and study abroad. However Campbell challenges Kuh for not including networked learning within experiential learning. With the digital age of education, Campbell asks, “Why not offer students an experience of the sense of exhilarating possibility within the cyberspace they take for granted, the cyberspace that LMSs and apps have begun to remove from our view?”

Campbell believes that the current generation of students does not have a vast knowledge of the internet and social media. Additionally, networked learning should provide learning beyond a traditional education. I see benefits to distance-learners by providing courses online and peer-to-peer learning through blogs and e-portfolios. However, I do not believe that the internet should be the only way to create experiential learning. Campbell seems unclear about how exactly to promote experiential learning and does not give concrete examples. Maybe Campbell’s beliefs are meant to be open to more interpretation. The author also seems concerned only with students in higher education. What about people who are not currently enrolled in a institution of higher education? It does not seem that Campbell has considered people who do not have access to education in a traditional classroom. There should also be consideration for continued learners.