Being Politically Active on Twitter

So this last few weeks, I have very politically active on Twitter.  and well, I am actually not going to apologize.

I think there are some serious things going down and we should use networks, especially as professors,  to educate and inform.

I really hope our legislators listen to their constituents because much damage is being done.  I elect an official to represent my community and our ideas not those of the party or personally held.  And even if I did not elect them – I respect their office and know that they were elected to represent ME.  As a citizen, who believes in democracy, I will participate. It is my responsibility to democracy..

I hope we can engage in a dialogue but if you don’t agree with my perspective and are not open to dialoguing, I completely understand and encourage you to unfollow.

I own my tweets and take full responsibility for anything I say, even as if I were yelling it from a bull horn.

Creating Innovators: Is it really about teacher behaviors?

I have been catching up grading this weekend and have been reading my 21st Century masters students discussion posts on the first two chapters of Creating Innovators by Tony Wagner.

As I have switched to badging in my undergraduate course, I am little bummed that their great ideas are trapped in the Janux learning platform because they have great ideas.  (In fact, I invite them to copy and paste their posts to this post as a comment if they want to publicly share)..  I will say that in Summer (their semester 2) they will start blogs and so we realize that their ideas won’t always be trapped behind a paywall.

So in the first two chapters of creating innovators – we begin to ask the questions about learners and what do they really need to be innovative.

One of my students, Laura – Came to an interesting conclusion: “I do not have to change everything I am doing I just need to be creative in how I teach my lessons. I think students should be asking and answering questions.” And that is true, it is as much about changing our own mindset as it to changing the lessons.  Monica builds on that idea when she said, “I don’t think we should limit ourselves to asking “Who” should be asking the questions about innovative education, but perhaps we should look at all how students will answer their own questions? How will we as educators respond to these questions and guide them in their journey to find their answers?”  In the end, great student centered teaching is not about the students, its about us breaking of the safe and traditional ways of teaching that we are used to, and forcing ourselves out of our teacher centered experiences, into student centered teaching behaviors.

So just after reading their responses, this popped in my twitter feed.  Sherratsam wrote a blog post about guiding students in innovative practices.  http://linkis.com/wordpress.com/rhUJz  He talks about the sweet spot when you get students to go further =when you get them to work on their projects and the teacher is there as a coach to push them further.  He finishes his blog post with  set of questions.  I view these statements as a generalized scaffolding that we as educators can use to think about our role in the classroom.

Copied and Pasted From the Blog Post:  For modern, student-centred, inquiry-based pedagogy to even begin to dominate our weekly schedules, we need to help our students go through the following process quickly enough to allow them the time to start doing and to be able to go into enough depth with that for genuine and powerful learning to come out of it:

  • help them understand the context of the learning
  • help them think about the context in diverse, rich and deep ways
  • help them filter all of that thinking in order to develop their own interest area and focus
  • help them figure out what they want to achieve within that focus
  • help them get started in order to achieve it

What strikes me about this, is the scaffolding that he is providing is really questions to ask yourself and your own teaching behaviors – Am I helping them  to better understand the problem and getting out their way to push them further.

I find that when I am trying to force myself into more student centered behaviors, I set prompts for myself in my teaching – little reminders to myself.

For example, when I am teaching in our innovative learning classroom – I find myself asking myself whenever I want to do a demo – Do I have to be the one showing this?  Could a student be showing?  I try to leave my iPad closed all hour – because I can walk my students through the problem..  and if I can’t, then I explain that to them..  (Ie.. I am not sure how to do this,  let me show you how I try to solve a problem like this..)

So the question I got from reading the blog and my student response to the first two chapters of creating innovators – what kinds of questions of could I ask to achieve the goals listed above?

 

Assessment to Create Innovators or even Innovative Professors?

Again, I am responding to my student responses on Creating Innovators: (its kind of stream of consciousness but reading these books always gets me trying to make connections)

The first thing that strikes me about this book is that some of the politics that are going on with schools and even in the country are a question of innovation.   Is our education system about tests? or is our education system about creating opportunities for students to be innovative and finding new ways to assess them?   Should our assessments be about growth or benchmarks?  Should one assessment lead into the next project?

In the end, I found a lot of my individual comments to student responses being about assessment – because in the end that is the issue. If we allow students to define their own problems, what is the assessment? How can we show that they learned?  How do we avoid falling into that trap where everyone gets the “college of ed” clap because they met the minimum requirements. How do we drive students to go beyond where they are comfortable?
I would say that we need to look at assessment in new ways.  Is there such a thing as a participatory assessment? Yes, there are books written on them, but in practice there are not good guidelines.   They are very prevalent in business.  We ask people all the time to assess themselves, often in business before a raise or an annual evaluation, we ask people to do a self -assessment.   However, this activity has to be really scaffolded.

Looking at Assessment through my own Assessment as a Professor

Let me share an illustrative from my life as a professor.   We are currently doing faculty reviews, and I can talk about my own self assessment – instead of it being a truthful reflective goal setting experience, I will admit that mine is a whiny, justification, excuse riddled piece of work.. (My evals were not as a high as I would like because I was teaching too many classes.. etc.. )  However, in our own faculty reviews, we are not rewarded for honest reflection, and our responses are not reviewed from year to year.   And they should be. The assessment is structured to be an one time measure, and they don’t lead to any feedback on future projects and are not part of a holistic review.  Part of the reason, is  the prompt is backward facing and it is not guiding me to set new goals, celebrate successes and failures and talk about how I will become better in the coming year(s).  It is also focused on the professor as an individual not a community member and does not require 21st century staples to be highlighted such as collaboration, mentorship, empathy, celebrating failure.

So our current prompt is:

In light of the information provided in this annual report, please assess your contributions in the three areas of professorial responsibility. Include any factors or information Committee A should consider as it reviews your work in research, service, and teaching.

It is just screaming out for me to make a whiny justification – the prompt is incorrectly scaffolded.. 

What is we had a prompt like this instead: (3 parts for the 3 parts of my job – scholarship, teaching and service)

Given your last year as reported in this document,  where do you see your career going in the next year or 5 years?  Where are finishing projects and where are you laying groundwork for future work… (ie.. what are excited to be learning about and want to spend more on next year).  Where do you plan to spend your scholarly time in the next year? 

As a teacher,  how are you committed to students in formal and informal ways and where would you like to see to our students be in 1 year or 5 years. What are you doing or plan to do to help make that dream a reality? 

As a citizen, how are you contributing to our community?  How are you supporting others, their interests, and working to create a working and learning environment that will continue to grow, flourish and support its learners and fellow faculty and staff? 

Then I will be revolutionary – besides those awful evals with the bubble sheets – when do we ask students to evaluate us?  What if we triangulated (Yeah, I know using my own professional tools to assess myself) and shared my personal statement about my commitment to students with some…  … wait for it…   STUDENTS ..  Check to see if what I think I am doing, is perceived that way, and find out if students feel supported and mentored.. (Yep Participatory assessment)..

Now those of you that have ever touched a faculty review, then thinks.. are you kidding?  Do you know long those things take? Maybe the question is not do crappy reviews yearly, but meaningful, deep reviews every 3 years.  Faculty could be on a cycle (like post tenure reviews) where they do it every few years and prompts like this scaffold goal setting, reflection on their goals and the mission of the institution, and job satisfaction.

So hopefully from this example, you can see how scaffolding makes all the difference – so in the end good assessment comes back to the prompts and how we get students (or faculty) to think about the work they did.

Why scaffolded reflective assessment matters

I realize I got a little off my topic talking about faculty reviews, but honestly, don’t we want our faculty to grow as much as we want our students to. People engaged in meaningful work, are great colleagues, and raise the organization to new levels.

Now think about this – how could we frame questions for students to get them to be forward looking, self reflective, and use the assessment on one project to set their goals for the next one – what would that look like?  And how could we get community feedback on projects and make it participatory assessment?

My post show that good assessment is as important for the teachers/faculty as it is for the students – and in the end innovators are not inventors – instead they are people who are using creativity and critical thinking to engage in their environment every day.   This kind of thinking drives them forward and makes them better.

 

 

 

My thoughts on DeVos Vote

It is plenty tough to be an educator, especially in Oklahoma.   The pay is bad, the respect is bad, and the confirmation of Devos to Secretary of Education is going to make it tougher.

I have two issues that I think will affect us right away. The pressure to have charter schools in Oklahoma when the state and schools are already broke – is only going to increase with someone like DeVos at the helm.  My husband also talks about “squirrels” or diversions.. The pay for Superintendents is our squirrel and in the end,  even if its a charter school – teachers are not going to be paid well and a business model – just leaves our students behind..   However, expect that momentum to create more charters to pick up in Oklahoma.. its so odd to me though, because I don’t know of any business that buys into something that someone says is not generating money..  I know that Charters are big money, but its all at the expense of our students.

Issue 2: Student loans –  We in Higher education better keep our eyes on this one, folks.. Yikes..

First,  Trump wants to repeal the Dodd Frank Act – which put in place some protections about borrowing.  And with Devos in charge of Education – I only worry that interest rates, and borrowing is going to go up..  And then Pell grants will go down..

I am currently reading Paying the Price by Sarah Goldrick Rab. She is speaking at OU on Tuesday February 21st..    It about student loans and the debt that students rae getting into..

Guys this is the next Subprime mortgage crisis.. One of the senators (Jack Reed RI) was holding the floor last night talked about how Realtors have come to him and said that they cannot sell houses to young people because they have too much student loan debt.   Folks if they can’t spend money,  our economy is in trouble.    Even though she has never had a student loan in her family, I sure hope that people keep their eyes on the economy – if we cripple our young people.. we are all in real trouble.

 

So remember that Betsy Devos is over both K-12 and higher education..

The hardest part for me now is to not lose hope..  I called, I tweeted, and Senator Lankford (especially) and Senator Inhofe – I know you did not value my input, but now I will not go away..  I am watching you, and looking forward to your challengers who really care about Oklahoma students both K-12 and higher education.  And Senator Lankford, I am not going to “move on”

Paying the Price

MITE Conference

Last week I had the opportunity to attend the MITE Conference (http://mite2017.com ) which is Mobile Technologies in Teacher Education. This conference was started by Apple Distinguished Educator Sean O Gradaigh (Twitter @SeanOGraTek) – account at the it was normally in Ireland but now he formed a relationship with CalStateTeach and it was in the US.

This conference was fabulous for several reasons.One I got to see some great friends and mix practice and research.  Two,  it was in LA in January (JK.. ) Three – I got to interact with CalStateTeach which is one of the most innovative teacher education programs in the country.    Four – the speakers were fabulous, in Fact I am talking to Bill Rankin to bring him to OU.

The timing is great because I did not miss class. Next location is not announced but worth watching for.