Being your Authentic Teaching Self

As someone that is endeavoring to go into the student affairs side of higher education, I won’t really be engaging students in the traditional style of “in-classroom” learning as often as others in this particular class. However, I have had the opportunity to engage Resident Advisors in a leadership building class, where we discuss challenges they face as a first year RA working with their residents.

When I think about my personality, I consider myself more of a casual and laid back person and I used that style while facilitating this class on a weekly basis. As my first time in this type of setting as the facilitator, I never thought about being anything else but myself going into the class, so this idea of posturing that Professor Fowler brings up was never a thought that crossed my mind. I can see how this could be something that a new professor may struggle with as teaching does not always come natural to everyone and can be something that needs to be developed over time with practice.

The Freire reference about teaching being directive and as a teacher you aren’t on the same playing field as your students I think helps a new professor start to gain the confidence that they are the instructor and the tone of the class is started with them. One the same note, I think that thought also goes hand in had with the banking theory concept, which should be balanced if you are truly to recognize your students as both learners and teachers in various moments.

In my class, we always started off asking each RA how their week was and if there were any issues that arose, we allowed other RAs in the class to offer tips and suggestions on how to potentially handle the situations. Then as the instructor, I can offer additional input if needed. This helped to create an environment where all thoughts and opinions felt valued and considered.

Issues with Grading

When your a kid, your parents tell you that if you want to be successful then you need to go to school and get “good grades”. The interesting thing is that, by simply “getting good grades”, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you are actually learning and retaining anything. All you’re doing is showing on paper that you can read over some index cards a few hundred times to memorize the answers to a test, take the test and potentially get a passing grade to take back to mom and dad. Mom and dad then take that passing grade and put it up on the fridge and tell their child, that they’re going to be succesful if they keep that up.

While that may very well be true, the child most likely will forget what they’ve memorized from that index card in about a week because then the class will be onto another topic that will require them to probably do the same thing with another set of index cards. The cycle keeps repeating itself in a never-ending process.

Kohn’s reading was intersting as it highlighted the effects of grading, that it diminishes students’ interests in whatever they’re learning, create’s a preference for the easiest possible task and reduces the quality of student’s thinking. I would agree with these points, because as I reflect on my educational experiences, I absolutely looked for the shortest readings, and studied only the information that I knew for sure was going to be on the test.

The issue with this, is that I limited myself to only the information that I needed at the moment verses not taking the time to really understand the concepts fully. As I have gotten older and have started to understand this idea a little better, I do believe that professors should find creative ways to encourage their students to not soley focus on the grades they might or might not get and focus on really understanding what they’re in class learning.

What has been really encouraging for me is taking a class this semester focused on the issues of college pedagogy where we have talked about this very issue. We are talking about the issue of grading and the types of effects that it has on students. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a fully thought out way to combat this issue, however I think by continuing these conversations, we should be able to get there eventually.

 

Lacoste Teaching Statement

After reading Jean Lacoste’s teaching statement I was really pleased to see that she took an active approach to make the best out of having such a large class. I think that redesigning her class to have multiple avenues for her students to have the ability to decide the best way for them to learn. From they way she decribes it, her students have adjusted well to the new layout of the class and they are benefitting from it.

However, the bigger issue for me is the size of her class in the first place. I’m not understanding why her classes are so huge. Are there not enough faculty in the department? Is this particular class not offered enough? I feel that even with this new model of the class, that students at some point are going to lose out because the instructor is going to burn out eventually having to manage such a large class.

This reminds me of what is currently happening within my own program where we don’t have enough faculty to support the amount of students that are applying for both a Master’s and Ph.D degree. Due to this issue, the program is limiting the number of students they will accept for the next cohort. This is unfortunate because this program is really good and should be supported.

For Jean Lacoste, I do applaud her for the approach she has taken, however I still believe that the students are eventually going to lose out on a quality education due to class size being to big and causing a lack of attention to individual students.

Twitter & Blogs as Publication Outlets

Reading the article by Tim Hitchcock, he talks about using blogging as a way to publicize your research and not to be afraid of others using this as a way to steal your work/research. He mentions that the most successful academics are the ones who are so passionate about their work that they are basically quick to publicize on every outlet.

Now as someone who does not care for blogging and will typically only blog when required for a class, I do actually see the benefit of using this platform as an outlet to present your ideas and opinions on certain topics in a classroom setting and even on published and peer reviewed topics. However, I personally would not go to a blog site to look up works for my own research, because I simply would not think that it would be credible. If I end up seeing the same research on an accredited site, then I’d be happily proven wrong and use it if it is of use to what I am working on at the time for sure.

Hitchcock also mentions two rules on participating in this “academic sphere”, I’d like to highlight the second rule he mentions where he says “remember that everything from Academia.edu, to Twitter, to Facebook and Flickr, is a form of publication, and should be taken seriously as such”. I use my social media for my own personal use and I see people’s posts on different topics of discussion. I will read articles that come across my timeline if I find the title interesting, but rarely would I say that I take them seriously unless I’ve seen a related topic in the news or on other sites that I trust to be a proven site.

Again, I see blogging as useful to vent and give your own personal thoughts and opinions on certain topics, but I would be skeptical about using any publications within my own work/research.

http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/impactofsocialsciences/2014/07/28/twitter-and-blogs-academic-public-sphere/