In a previous post, I reflected on “Getting the Disconnected Connected,” and throughout Connected Educator Month, the emphasis on getting other teachers online has been an important endeavor. I’ve also noted that not all educators have to be online to be connected (check out “You Might Be a Connected Educator If…“). I still believe this; however, I wanted to highlight events that can make a connected educator feel disconnected, particularly if the teaching environment is comprised of a majority of disconnected educators. I call them snippets of awkwardness.
Below are several snippets of awkwardness that I experienced in the past week:
My lectures for the week are prepared, a culmination of blog prompts, freewriting exercises, and Diigo article collections on proper citing. Students will bring in current topics they find interesting, and we’ll spend time searching for credible sources based on their selections. A few students are struggling with comma usage – I create a screencast and post it to the blog.
I graded student rough drafts over the weekend using iAnnotate, complete with in-text and verbal feedback. Drafts were emailed back to students during an extensibly long English Department meeting. While Professor Powerpoint reviewed documents (already sent via email), ironically on “How to Save Time Grading Writing Assignments,” I pretended to pay attention, but instead logged into a quick professional development opportunity via Twitter (thank you #edchat). Strategic seating in meetings is paramount. I picked up a new tool to publish student work, Issuu.com, and because Professor PowerPoint still had 36 slides to go, I decided to give it a try. Check out my class’ anthology here. I decided to share the anthology with next week’s classes as a review tool.
Google Docs and I spend some quality time together – students have been revising their research proposals, and knowing how much they welcome the instantaneous feedback, I spend some time sipping coffee and workshopping drafts. I group students into writing workshops and encourage further revisions prior to our next class meeting. My daughter has a dentist appointment, and of course the dentist is running late, so we break out the iPad and practice her vocabulary words on Quizlet. She has had the same words for 2 weeks and is eager to get a new list. I load a list of Halloween vocab, just for fun, to entertain her. The dentist calls her back, asks her if she is having a good day. My daughter responds with her new favorite non-vocab word:”I’m feeling ghoulish today.” The dentist laughs.
A curriculum meeting runs late, mostly because of participants’ incessant moaning about lack of student motivation. I don’t chime in – I’m spending the time revising my lectures after realizing that my students need to be challenged more. Once again, strategic seating works to my advantage. My freshmen composition courses are back channeling via Twitter and continuously blogging, which has highlighted a problem worth having – students wanting more self-direction in their learning. And although I have shared various engagement methods during curriculum meetings, I know the horse will stare at the water, but won’t drink. Instead, I spend my time considering collaborative class projects for future production.
A student informs me via Twitter that he would like to speak about topic ideas. I use this as an excuse to duck out of the faculty affairs forum, popping in only to advise them of a more immediate situation. No doubt everything in the meeting will be recapped through an email anyhow. As I leave the meeting, a PowerPoint loads on the screen. I breathe a sigh of relief. I meet Student A for coffee in the Student Union Center; other students see us and join the impromptu coffee-talk for a discussion on the importance of solidifying one’s voice as a writer. I mention forming a student-centered writing chat for the general student population They seem excited.
I pop in to say hi to Professor Connected, even though we chat through Twitter on a daily basis, it’s nice to see a smiling face on Friday. He and I are lone connected wolves on campus – a quick nod confirms our united front. I make my way to Building X for class and chat politely with Professor Busybee. She stops to complain about course preps and student handouts. She asks how I manage four preps with all of the paperwork, and I tell her that I’ve been paperless for two years. She responds with a confused “oh.”
Both of my daughters have a gymnastics competition, which gives me an excuse to grade papers and provide feedback on student research proposals. I’m finished with plenty of time to reflect on the past week via my own blog. Before logging off, I check my email and, as expected, the only messages received are meeting notes. Students don’t email me. I check our class stream on Twitter and laugh as I see a discussion between a handful of students on the various meanings of life in Dan Barry’s “The Oddest Effects of Cancer.” I don’t jump in, but instead I entertain myself while watching my two passions, one in person and one on screen – my daughters and my self-directed students.