Creating memories as teaching

Creating memories as teaching

I had the honor of interviewing Gardner Campbell this week: twice. The first episode with him airs on June 30, while the second one posts on July 28.

[Spoiler alert] One of the things he spoke about during the recommendations segment was his recent purchase of the quadrophonic albums of the group, Chicago.

Ever since our conversation, I’ve had Chicago playing almost non-stop in the soundtrack in my head.

Chicago always reminds me of my Dad and the many trips my family would take out to Joshua Tree when I was little. It was touching for me to discover that Gardner and I share such a deep connection with the music of Chicago.

Music almost always evokes deep memories for me. When students recommend music to me, the memory of them introducing me to a phenomenal musician or musical group is forever etched in my mind.

Before streaming music services existed, my students used to be amazed that I had over 10,000 songs in my digital music collection. I’ve always enjoyed playing music before class and often invited students to take the role as DJ to find songs that they liked to play.

My favorite memory of those early days of teaching was the student who asked if he could find a song from my collection to play and came up with this little number:

To be clear, this was not done in any sort of flirtatious way, but rather as an attempt to embarrass me for owning the song. I think it was also a “test” to see what kind of professor I was going to be, since it was early in the semester.

I must have passed the test, since this took place ten years ago and I’m still in touch with about half of the students who were in the class.

Creating memories as teaching

I promise not to give the entire episode #107 with Gardner away in this post, but he also shares about listening to Peter Gabriel’s Solsbury Hill with his study abroad students and the lasting memory that it is for him of his teaching experiences.

While any study abroad experience is going to be an extreme example, I keep reflecting on the aspect of our role as teachers of creating memories.

I teach a sales and sales management course once per year that I’ve taught for 11 years now. I’ve stayed in touch better with the students who have taken that class more than any other that I teach. I also hear from more of them, years later, as they share some way that the course is still having an impact on them.

I attribute much of that to the way that the students take risks in the course and are able to demonstrate their skills in a powerful (public) way at the end of the semester.

The final experience of the course is called Sales Challenge #3 (as in there are a couple of lessor challenges that come before it, to build up their skills and help prepare them for the experience.

sales-challenge-3

The students dress in professional attire and role play a sales scenario with a business professional they have never met before. It is typically a nerve-wracking experience for them. However, even years later, they tell me what an impact it had on their confidence that they now have the skills needed to influence others and help people solve business-related problems.

We create a memory together, through the experience. It is one that lasts for years down the line and helps them reflect even further on the skills that began to develop, during their college years.

Question: How do you see creating memories as an aspect of your teaching? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

 

#106: Undercover professor (Mike Cross) [PODCAST]

On this episode, Dr. Mike Cross is an undercover professor.

undercover professor

Guest: Mike Cross

Professor at Northern Essex Community College

Read more in a Chronicle article about Mike

Resources

Recommendations

Bonni

Mike

Are You Enjoying the Show?

  1. Rate/review the show. Please consider rating or leaving a review for the Teaching in Higher Ed podcast on whatever service you use to listen to it on (iTunesStitcher, etc.). It is the best way to help others discover the show.
  2. Give feedback. As always, I welcome suggestions for future topics or guests.
  3. Subscribe. If you have yet to subscribe to the weekly update, you can receive a single email each week with the show notes (including all the links we talk about on the episode), as well as an article on either teaching or productivity.

Let’s agree to agree and disagree

Reactions to Sean Michael Morris' Critical Pedagogy in the Age of Learning Management

Critical pedagogy and data

One of my least favorite sayings is, “Let’s agree to disagree.” What does that even mean? When I read those words in written form, the voice in my head says them dripping with sarcasm and without kindness.

Yet, a slightly-altered version of it was the first thing that came into my head as a potential title for this post, when I sat down to write today.

Sean Michael Morris’ thoughts on Critical Pedagogy in the Age of Learning Management resonated with me. So much so that we had a whole conversation around it on the Teaching in Higher Ed podcast

Where Sean Michael Morris and I might part ways is in the complete lack of interest in student metrics. He writes:

I can safely say that I have no interest in student metrics. They tell me nothing.

… and I find myself wanting to agree to agree and disagree on this point.

First, a little context. I teach at a small, private, liberal arts university. My course load is 4/4, with an average of 30-35 students in each of my courses. That translates to well over 100 individuals per semester that I feel a big responsibility to serve in the best ways I know how.

There are those students who take me up on my offers to meet for coffee, or to go for walks at the beautiful Newport Beach Back Bay… These relationships represent what I consider to be the most important aspects of my teaching and of my sense of vocation.

jamie

Then, there are those students who do not initiate any form of relationship. Our connection could wind up consisting of the minimum common denominator of me learning their name and knowing one thing about them (where they’re from, what year in school they are, if they have served in the military, whether they work full time, or if they’re involved in some sort of extra curricular activity such as athletics or the choir). I’m ashamed to admit that there ever were those courses in which my association with some of the students never progressed beyond that point, but it has happened.

Sean ends his post by stressing the importance of helping students form relationships with him and with each other and that data does nothing to inform any of that. He then writes:

All the rest is up to them.

Here’s where we differ.

To me, those metrics and data do help me see where I may be able to be some small part in helping a student re-engage at a critical part of the semester. In the classroom, we can observe the behaviors of a person whose only presence is in physical form. Over time, we might learn how to better engage people and challenge ourselves to find ways to bring the learners back into the conversation.

Online, with 120 students, I don’t have the luxury of the in-person cues that I might otherwise rely on to improve my own teaching.

The data helps me see whether perhaps the video I posted just wasn’t that interesting, or whether I could have made the course navigation better to guide people through the introduction of the topic better. Over time, I can get better at finding ways to engage students in the dialog in the online portions of the course in the same, or different, ways I might in the classroom. I can expand my thinking about what it means to engage in an online environment, with the particular challenge of finding ways to help students connect with each other.

The data also helps me see where particular students may be struggling. If I can send a text message to a student who hasn’t logged in for a couple of weeks, it could potentially mean the difference between them passing or failing the course. I can try to catch a student for a few minutes after class, after noticing that she’s failed the last few online quizzes, or not turned in the small assignments that were meant as scaffolding for an upcoming major assignment.

This doesn’t mean that our students aren’t ultimately responsible for their own learning in a course, but I’m sensitive to the fact that I teach many first generation students who may not have had the luxury of having mentors to teach them how to manage schedules and multiple priorities.

Transitioning from high school to college can be so difficult. If I allow the data to give me lenses to see what I may otherwise miss, I could be some small part in helping them build new habits and disciplines for their learning.

When I’m in a classroom with 30 students, I can usually assess in-the-moment how people may be experiencing the learning. I also know I have the capacity of being completely wrong in my perceptions

When I’m going in-and-out of the online portions of my courses, I no longer seem to possess this same capacity. If an aspect of my course is poorly designed, I may not notice until the data brings the weakness to light. If someone is being left out of the learning process in some way, I don’t always notice, unless the data brings some aspect of that to my attention.

As I end this post, I realize that this may very well not be a case of disagreement, but more of a weakness on my part and a strength on Sean Michael Morris’ part (see Jesse Stommel’s tweet, embedded, below).

It also may be a cultural difference between where Sean has taught and where I currently teach.

When a student has failed one of my courses, there are questions that occasionally get asked like, “Did you talk to him/her about how they were doing in the class at some point? Did you ever reach out to check in with him/her?” While that never changed the outcome for the student, it did change me. I didn’t ever want to have an answer in the future that indicated that I hadn’t ever done anything to try to bring them back in to the learning community in some way.

Data has helped me be true to that promise in the past, though I know it isn’t without its dangers.

#105: Professional Online Portfolios (McClain Watson) [PODCAST]

Today’s guest, Dr. McClain Watson, at University of Texas at Dallas, advocates for the importance of our students being able to: “ convince people in the professional world that they 1) know what they’re doing, 2) can be trusted, and 3) are interesting to be around?” On today’s episode: Professional Online Portfolios.

online portfolios

Guest: McClain Watson
Clinical Associate Professor, Director of Business Communication Programs Organizations, Strategy and International Management

Bio: http://jindal.utdallas.edu/faculty/john-watson

Resources

Sample portfolios

Recommendations

Bonni:

McClain:

Are You Enjoying the Show?

  1. Rate/review the show. Please consider rating or leaving a review for the Teaching in Higher Ed podcast on whatever service you use to listen to it on (iTunesStitcher, etc.). It is the best way to help others discover the show.
  2. Give feedback. As always, I welcome suggestions for future topics or guests.
  3. Subscribe. If you have yet to subscribe to the weekly update, you can receive a single email each week with the show notes (including all the links we talk about on the episode), as well as an article on either teaching or productivity.

#104: Disability accommodations and other listener questions [PODCAST]

On this week’s episode, Dave and I discuss disability accommodations and other listener questions.

disability accomodations

1) Disability accommodations

2) Online scenario manager resource

3) Preparation for getting doctorate degree

4) “Small” approaches to reclaiming teaching as a focus

Recommendations

Bonni

Dave

Are You Enjoying the Show?

  1. Rate/review the show. Please consider rating or leaving a review for the Teaching in Higher Ed podcast on whatever service you use to listen to it on (iTunesStitcher, etc.). It is the best way to help others discover the show.
  2. Give feedback. As always, I welcome suggestions for future topics or guests.
  3. Subscribe. If you have yet to subscribe to the weekly update, you can receive a single email each week with the show notes (including all the links we talk about on the episode), as well as an article on either teaching or productivity.