EDU 630 Blog Post #2, or “How the hell do I do this now?”

Throughout my time here at Post as a student, I almost feel like I’ve been thrown into the deep end, and it’s time to learn to swim, or sink like a stone. This isn’t, of course, an entirely accurate description–my professors and my academic success counselor have been wonderful at hand-holding–but every time we get into a new unit and I have to learn how to do something else, I worry that I’m in over my head. And then, obviously, I do the thing and move on to the next thing. This is, at it’s core, Post University’s modus operandi–learn by doing.

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…on your face, most times…

And I have fallen over A LOT. My final submitted work doesn’t show it, but my husband can attest to the crying and the yelling and the freaking out and anxiety attacks that usually accompany a new assignment that I have absolutely no idea how to finish.

This past week, we had to work on writing our personal educational philosophy. What’s a personal educational philosophy, you ask? I had no fracking clue. It’s a thing that I know all of my teacher friends have, and when I asked them, their explanation was simple–“it’s, you know…a statement explaining your philosophy on teaching.” OH. Great. Because THAT’S helpful and clear.

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Thank you, Doge, for saying what we’re all thinking.

Right. So I did what I always do–wing it. Through writing it, though, I found that a lot of what I needed to say was common sense. When you’re a teacher, what do you want your students to learn? Why do you teach what you teach? What’s your role? These are all questions my instructor wanted us to focus on. I….had never thought about it in that way. Certainly nobody had ever explained it that way. And so I asked myself questions–LOTS of questions. Why did I fight so hard to become an instructor here? Why did I fight so hard to get my M.A. in history? What was the point of that? What do I want my students to know? I asked myself all those questions, as though I was interviewing an instructor about why they became a teacher–because, at the end of the day, that’s what an educational philosophy is. It’s the reason why we get up every morning and try to teach students skills. Every day, I log into my classes, and I look at what my students have done. Some days–most days–I wonder why I bother (they don’t listen when I give them feedback, they don’t like the feedback I’m giving them, they’re not improving, why am I doing this).

Quite literally a representation of me every morning I log into Blackboard.
Quite literally a representation of me every morning I log into Blackboard.

But then, there’s that moment. That moment when a student–your student–gets it. Where they make that connection, where they think critically, where they hit an analysis of a historical document on the head. That moment when they get it, and you realize that it was all worth it. Because at least this one student has learned something. You’ve made a difference in one student’s life, and you’ve done it without compromising the content. They’ve learned how to do a thing–THAT’S why I do this.

And just like that, I had my educational philosophy. And when I did, I’m pretty sure Steve (my own instructor) had that moment too.

EDU 630 Blog Post #1, or “What am I doing here?”

I’ve never been good at writing blog posts–mostly because I can’t understand why anyone would want to listen to a word I say. Realistically, though, a blog is the best place for me to discuss all the things that run through my brainpan when it comes to school.

I am a student at Post University. I am also staff member, and faculty. I’ve hit the trifecta. Which is odd, because I never thought I would do all of these things. And it’s challenging, for a number of different reasons. Not the least of which is keeping my time managed properly–something I’m struggling to do.

Me, almost every day, trying to get everything done and wondering what the hell I'm doing.
Me, almost every day, trying to get everything done and wondering what the hell I’m doing.

However, there is one good thing about being an instructor AND a student–everything I learn in the class I take is one more thing I can incorporate into the class I teach. Who else gets to say that, really? We spent time the past few weeks discussing what online learning was really, and what made for a good online instructor–all helpful things for a first time online teacher to learn.

Last week was especially helpful–we read an article by Mark Pearcey, where he talks about being a high school teacher, who then went to school online, and became a history professor in college. He talked a lot about the challenges of being a teacher when the internet first became a “thing” back in the late 90s–how, as technology became more prevalent, he started integrating it into “planning and instruction” (Pearcey, 2014), and how toward the end he couldn’t imagine a world without it. This is something I can empathize with. I’ve had a computer for as long as I could remember–in fact, I remember very clearly when my parents bought a Gateway desktop (which was all the rage in ’94), and I used it to do homework and play on AOL with my friends.

Not my actual computer, but something quite like it.
Not my actual computer, but something quite like it.

Technology, it seems, has always been a part of my life–so it only makes sense that I go to college online and teach online. But there’s so much more to teaching online–and learning online–than I had ever thought before.

This week was handy. This week, we talked about how to build discussion board questions and how to use the Socratic Method to get more out of our students. It’s week 3–both of the class I teach and the class I take–and I’m only now just getting into the swing of knowing what to say to my students to elevate the conversation and get them talking. In the class I take, it’s easy. I’m concerned about professional speak, but not as concerned about someone taking something the wrong way, so I’m a bit more colorful with my classmates. For my students? I’m constantly afraid I’m going to say the wrong thing or I’m going to come across as more snarky than I mean to. It’s a constant balancing act, and I’m always afraid I’m going to fall. And, really, this is the biggest risk I’ve ever taken. Thank the fluffy gods I have good balance….mostly…

Me literally every day
Me literally every day