This week, Alec asked us to reflect on two questions:
a) How are you contributing to the learning of others?
b) How are you making your learning visible?
I have never really considered those questions before let alone thought about the importance of them. I have been teaching for 15 years and my vision for my personal teaching is in my classes at work. Sure, you make an impression of students and they take that learning with them but this is limited to the kids who are in your physical classroom. Certainly, my employer has never phrased those questions to me. Does all of this mean that these questions are not important?
No, I think these questions are important, but it is challenging traditional thinking. I consider myself very current in many ways, but perhaps some of my views reflect an old, out-of-date way of teaching. I do see that things are changing and I feel the students are wanting a new way of engaging in their education.
How are you contributing to the learning of others?
I feel that is is not only my job to teach the academics, but life skills as well. In addition, I have tried to subtly push a personal agenda of having students be more tolerant of others, encouraging creativity, social justice and social good issues. The school where I have taught for the last eight years had up until a year ago very little diversity. The individual students were nice, but in general pretty sheltered and ignorant of not only the world around them, but issues in their own city. In the last two years, we have had many new citizens to Canada start coming to our school and I feel our students are becoming more aware and open to a variety of issues. I take no credit in this, but I do try to foster a interest in these areas and the students are more receptive to these issues.
How are you making your learning visible?
I don't think I am making the student learning more visible. With all of the legal issues of privacy and youth (for good reason) we do not generally make the learning visible outside of our school. Within the school our program is pretty high-profile and we attract students to the program because of it (I am a music teacher and I run most all of the music groups at my school).
Outside of work, I am on social media quite a bit as I am a musician and a big part of that is growing a fan base. In the last year, I have utilized Twitter, Instagram, Youtube and other social media mostly for promotion of my music. I suppose I could use these same areas for education. However, I am nervous of saying I am a teacher as I fear people will not take my music as seriously as they will think it is a hobby. Yes, I am a teacher but I don't think that means I spend any less time on my art as a musician. It is a very tough balancing act. I do see the potential for some really powerful collaborations in education through social media (sharing great resources as an example) and I am starting to engage in these education discussions more through this class.