YOU ARE SIMPLY THE

In a recent blog post for the Huffington Post, Professor Keith M. Parsons from the University of Houston – Clear Lake sends a message to his students.  It’s gotten a lot of attention on social media, at least in my circles, and as a professor myself, I was interested in what he had to say.  […]

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I teach in a Master of Arts in Teaching program, using an online platform (a Moodle-based LMS developed for us by the fabulous 2U, and Adobe Connect). In this program, many of my students are also parents. Since they’re also attending live classes over a webcam from home, this means that often their children are in the house with them. Many professors in this setting take the approach of banning children, or in fact any potential distractions at all, from the classroom. My approach is a bit different. See, I’m a parent myself, and I believe that one of the big problems in our society is the disconnect between work life and family life; the idea that once you get to work you’re supposed to stop being a parent, but when you’re home with your family you should still be answering work email. I think this is a damaging and stressful thing for parents, whether they’re at work or in an academic program, or as often happens, both. So, instead, I choose to support my student parents in ways that not only improve their educational experience, but improve learning for other students and improve my experience as the instructor. It’s my small act of rebellion against the societal encroachment of work and academia on family life.

success

Dear failing student,
I’ve just discovered that you’re past the tipping point, and won’t pass my course. I will spend all day thinking about you. I’m so sad that your outcome in this course wasn’t positive. I take it personally when even one of my students doesn’t succeed, even though I probably shouldn’t. I know this is a big obstacle, because my course is required. I’m a gatekeeper for the degree and the credential, which you have your sights set upon.

projector

I recently ran across this brilliant blog posting as I was browsing Reddit, and I knew I needed to share it. The author shares a mock test as a way of illustrating the major gaps in how we teach preservice teachers about technology. The sins he describes are not at all exclusive to McGill University; all too often, education schools resist change, or misplace their focus when it comes to teaching about technology. He offers a set of recommendations for universities that I couldn’t agree with more, that includes things like teaching about net neutrality, basic hardware usage (I am REALLY tired of seeing professors at conferences who can’t hook up a projector), closed vs. open source software, and the cloud. The only thing I would add to this list is

racist

No this isn’t about education. Bear with me.

I went to a protest this weekend here in Baton Rouge in response to the Eric Garner decision and other instances of police brutality. A couple of hundred people were there: students, ministers, various other members of the community, of all races. We heard the account (from his father) of Victor White III, who supposedly shot himself in the chest, while in police custody, with his hands cuffed behind his back. We heard the account of another unnamed man who, after being sent to prison in Angola, was killed 4 days later in an altercation with prison guards. His family doubted the story they were told of the altercation, and his body was not allowed to be released to the family; he was buried in Angola. We heard a mother talking about how she returned to her car from a convenience store, to find a cop physically roughing up her children in the back seat, because one of them was playing with a laser pointer. We heard from a 12 year old black girl who was terrified that her 10 year old brother would be killed by police. We heard from a man who was beaten by police because he said to the officer “Why did you stop me?” These stories are, sadly, not unique.

michael brown

The events in Ferguson have caused me to continually ask myself what could have prevented this situation.  I’ve seen no end of white people (and exactly one person of color) posting about how if Michael Brown had just behaved better toward Darren Wilson, then he wouldn’t have been killed.  If Trayvon Martin had just chosen “more […]

glasses

Normally I post about much more serious things, but today I’m going to post about the fine art of being as comfortable as possible while still looking professional when you work online (aka: How to wear sweatpants and tshirts every day, but still look like you are fully dressed for battle at the drop of a hat.)

I may be shattering some illusions here, but here goes. I work exclusively from home, and I teach and have meetings from a webcam. I also have a toddler. So that means I’m not getting dressed in silk blouses, wool suits, and heels every day. I need to be applesauce and finger paint ready, and also meeting with the Dean ready at any moment. So, what’s a hardworking professor-mom to do?

typewriter

As a teaching professor, I read a lot of papers. In those papers, I see a lot of wonderful writing, and a small amount of terrible writing. I spent a fair amount of my time while reading these papers correcting grammatical errors. Some of these errors are things that absolutely must be fixed. You do need to have complete sentences. You also need to have subjects that agree with verbs. In academic writing, the rules are rigid for a reason. However, there are a couple of rules that I would love to see fall by the wayside. Students, if you’re reading this, the answer is yes. This is your permission to ignore these rules when writing papers for me.

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It is no secret that I am no fan of standardized tests. I strongly believe that they are killing public education, and I am terrified at what our educational system will look like in 20 years. We desperately want to be the best, and so we devise test after test to hold students and teachers accountable.

Who is it that we think we need to hold accountable? We have these mythical “bad teachers” who just aren’t doing their jobs. Those teachers do exist, but they are a small percentage. The vast majority of teachers out there are good teachers. Because, you see, teachers don’t become teachers for the money (or even for the summer breaks). They become teachers because they have a passion for inspiring and educating young minds.

polling

I live in a somewhat rural Parish in Louisiana. We’re mostly oil refineries and plants, with a few towns thrown in. Now, in my district, we’ve got a contentious school board election happening. What that means is that every intersection is peppered with campaign signs, including a sign campaigning for someone with the nickname “Worm.” It’s Louisiana – what can I say? I’ve had numerous pamphlets dropped off at the door, quite a few robocalls, and several candidates knocking on my door. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately for them) they all knocked at inopportune times so I wasn’t able to talk to them.

If I had been able to talk to them I might have asked them simple questions like:

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