Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Reflecting on Yesterday's Round Table Dialogue

****I tried to have this reflection up immediately after our last Round Table, but alas, due to a district name change and problems with my Google Account, I could not get back to finish this reflection until now. Apologies if it's a bit outdated now.****

Yesterday afternoon's dialogue was refreshing for me not only as an eTrainer but also as an educator on this campus. My colleagues reminded me of the innovation, questions, energy, and pedagogy we need to be constantly pursuing. I want to thank those who came, and also spend a little time reflecting on our time and on a few of the conversational nuggets that struck me.

One interesting thing to note about the afternoon: the ages of those in attendance spread from 24 to at least 55. There were 25-30 years of educational knowledge and experience in that space. It was encouraging to see such a spread of ages; innovation and reflection is not just for youth. It was also interesting to watch our conversation shift over the course of the hour. Everything we talked about was tech-centered, but the group's conversation moved very quickly to pedagogy and theory. We revolved our conversation around Digital Pedagogy: How Twitter and Social media is impacting the way we learn.

It will be difficult to only choose a few comments or pieces of our conversation to record and reflect on here, but I shall try. Some quotes might not have been recorded verbatim, but we did our best. 

"I need my own digital space." -Javier Martinez
I found this to be a powerful idea. We (as in humanity) pretty much accept the idea that we need our own physical space. Husbands and wives have "his and her" bathroom counter top spaces and sinks. It is considered socially unacceptable to stand too close to others (with the rare exceptions of subways and airport trams, and even then sometimes it's just "too close.") I am reminded of the Seinfeld episode in which Elaine dates a man who stands up-in-your-grill when he's speaking to you. The humor of the episode is created by the discomfort people feel when he's speaking to them at a distance close enough to lock lips. If we need physical space, if we all KNOW we need physical space, we should be more aware of our need to have our own digital space. I wonder if I should create another Twitter handle or Facebook identity devoted to simply "being" on the digital sphere. Do I need another way of being in the digital realm?

"Sometimes I walk through the halls and count the number of teacher voices I hear, which speaks to the difficulty to consistently implement student centered instruction" -Shelby Acevedo
I could not stop thinking about this idea all day. How frequently am I talking at my students? And what kind of "talk" am I doing? Is it in response to their ideas, or my own? This is SUCH a difficult transition to make as an educator, one that takes specific discipline and reminders of our students' need to TALK. This reminds me of the Vygotskian Venn Diagram, which visually depicts the synergistic relationship between thought and language. Vygotsky maintained that without language use, thought could not exist. It's no wonder we complain that our kids can't think for themselves. Maybe we're not letting their thoughts develop by letting them use their language enough- we give them our language instead of letting them develop their own. 

"The quality of thinking is a result of the task we are being asked to do." -Quinton Freeman
I will be frank. I blame my students at times for not knowing or doing "what they should already know how to do." I think I often indirectly shame them for responding to some of my assignments the way that they do. I think to myself, "HOW IS IT POSSIBLE that they do they not know how to write a thesis?" The fact of the matter is, they probably know exactly how to write a thesis. Maybe my prompt is what sucks. 

"What would it look like if we slapped the TEKS up on the wall and told our students, 'Have at it.' Prove to me that you've learned it by the end of the six weeks." -Karen Justl
How awesome would that be if we had the capability, support, willingness, and room to try this? Our students would be entirely responsible for their own learning. 

"I don't think we should let ourselves be limited by a grading structure." -Katie Fitch
I completely agree. I liked your use of the words "let ourselves..." because we do, indeed, let ourselves be limited. If we really wanted to allow our students the opportunity for a personalized learning experience, we could make it work. It of course would call for much more thought and bravery. 

1 comment:

  1. It was one of the most exciting hours I have spent discussing education in a long time - just amazing to be part of such a thoughtful conversation! Very encouraging and somewhat intimidating! It opened my eyes to all of the challenges facing teachers these days - from the grading issues, the experiences or lack of one the part of the students, and the new tools for engaging students.
    Can we recondition the student expectations of schooling?
    Looking forward to Round II!