It’s that time again for a new term to begin. I’m meeting all of my master’s and doctoral students in these first couple of weeks, and I’m faced with the same dilemma I’ve faced since I began as a professor 6.5 years ago. Do I change my teaching style to deal with the inherent sexism and internalized oppression of my students?
This might seem like a dramatic claim. Most of my students are women, after all, so how can sexism be impacting my teaching? Unfortunately, it’s the sad truth. I’m a teaching professor, so the vast majority of my performance evaluation is based on student course evaluations. Those little bubbles that students fill in at the end of the course are significant…
There’s a great deal of debate in the education world about the death of cursive writing instruction. Cursive lovers bemoan the excision of cursive from the curriculum, and are horrified at the thought that someday, these children will grow up and not be able to read their grandparents’ letters (nevermind that their grandparents are now Tweeting, Instagramming, and Snapchatting).
But what do they really need cursive for? Important documents are no longer written in cursive. When applying for most jobs, no one will ever see your handwriting until you’re hired, and even then they may never see it. Signatures are generally written in cursive, but it’s generally a stylized, bastardized version of cursive. So why are we clawing at cursive in a vain attempt to keep it in the curriculum?
Inside Higher Ed published the results of their Survey of Faculty Attitudes on Technology today – a collaboration with Gallup. It details faculty opinions on many areas of technology, including online learning. Of course, as a distance professor, I was eager to see the results. And of course, they reflect the same old, tired attitudes about online learning.
So let me tell you a little story…
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. […]
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.
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.
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
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 […]
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?