Friday, January 03, 2014

New Year - New Course - New Beginnings

Here it is, 2014 - and I am amazed that I have not taken advantage of this blog very often since I no longer teach methods courses. My new position at Wyoming has meant that I have primarily taught research courses to doctoral students, but I'm beginning to teach endorsement courses for inservice teachers, not quite methods, but close. I can say that my long absence from this blog has cost me as a professional educator - although I've made notes/ reflections electronically over the past couple of years, I have not done so on any kind of regular basis and they are not in one place (i.e., this Blog), but are scattered, filed away in electronic folders in Dropbox. I think that if I had kept up this blog, it would have made me a better professor - but I didn't, so that's that. I can, however, remedy that!

I remember my second semester, when I was teaching through compressed video (a format I hate) and ran into technical difficulties on a regular basis. What a nightmare! During the course, I made adjustments to avoid small group breakouts (which seemed particularly problematic) and opted instead for giving students time to complete think writes and then share them with the class. That helped a bit, but did not entirely solve the problem of lack of student engagement I felt as a professor. My ultimate response was to switch to completely online courses, and add some small group Google Hangout sessions, which seems to be better suited to how I teach. In any case, I am teaching an implementation course this semester, almost a methods course - it's the kind of course I most like to teach. Perhaps because I am first and foremost a teacher at heart. I've made some changes in assignments, and I am hoping they will make a difference for students as they develop their reflective stance. I am requiring them to keep a professional journal in the Learning Management System (LMS) we are using - I hope that they might find it so useful that they'll begin to keep a Professional Journal on their own. For now, and for those students in my class that might take the time to actually read my Blog postings, I want to think about the course before we actually get started.

I have a couple of students registered that did not take the first course, so I need to figure out what they might do for their culminating project. This might actually be an opportunity to make the two courses (EDCI 5770 and 5775) less "joined at the hip." Perhaps I can have them try the ideas we discuss - choose 3-4 of them and document through their journals how it goes. Then they might do a mini-review of the research on one of them that they find most helpful in their instruction. That would be a tall order, but perhaps it would enable folks who did not take the first course be able to complete a similar project to students who did take the courses in the specified order. In any case, I need to do something this semester as we are transitioning to this sequence of courses. I need to send these folks an email to this effect - and then get on with the course.

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