Catching My Breath & Reflecting as Teacher & Student

Like many in my Flat Classroom Certification cohort, I have to admit that having a week to breathe in the certification course and do catch up really was appreciated. Simultaneously following and participating in PLENK2010, has been arduous and taken a bit of a dip the last two weeks. Plus, I found myself in what an old friend referred to as an assessment bottleneck, which is code for English teachers, meaning I had a load of papers to read. Combined with a few Writing Project initiatives I have going with NWPMWP and BWP, I was feeling like everything was converging at once.

An added benefit, it gave me a little time to do a little reflection both for my work as a teacher and as a student. For one, the timing was great in terms of teaching, as I am approaching a midterm point in the classes I teach. As far as being a student in a couple of courses, it is the midpoint in one and close in another. I often feel like courses should have an equivalent of half-time, a chance for some assessment and adjustments. In this case, it has worked out to be kind of like one.

On the teaching front, I wrote a bit about my grading experiment last week and continue to monitor. However, at this point I have seen enough work from my students to have a much clearer idea about who is meeting expectations and who is not. In fact, I am planning on administering a short survey to gather some of their thoughts about the class more than the grading. I will survey them about the grading later. I am interested to see how their answers, which involve some reflections and self-assessment will match with my initial impressions and assessments. More on this to come.

Also on the teaching front, I am rapidly approaching a transition point, where most of my classes will be wrapping up some existing work and venturing into a new unit of study. I always find the transitions from one unit to another kind of exciting. It is an opportunity to make adjustments based on the growing understanding I have of the current students, while accounting for what has been successful in the past. I am always interested to see how the current students respond to the new material.

As a student, I have felt a bit like I was falling behind the pace. This is certainly the case with the PLENK2010 course. However, I do feel like that course will have a long aftertaste. Considering that it does not have any assessments, other than self-assessment, and my participation is completely based on my own interest, I feel a little less pressure. Plus, I have been a bit more in consumption mode with that line of inquiry, reading a lot of material. In some ways, it is hard to slow down the gathering and reading of material long enough to truly contemplate it in all of its complexity until after it is over. At least, that’s is sometimes how I feel.

However, even if I have not had a chance to collect my thoughts on that material and produce any artifacts of that thinking I still feel engaged and like a participant, just one that has had to slow down and move to the outside and behind the frontrunners. I only wish that I had more time to be even more immersed in it. I am finding the whole massively open online course (MOOC) experience extremely fascinating as a phenomenon. Plus, I am learning a whole lot. Even from my temporary place on the side, it remains exhilarating.

As for the Flat Classroom Certification course, it was the most welcome break. I had been making pretty strong headway in that course and very much feeling like a front runner, getting things done quickly and early. Then, I started running into some communication problems since a few changes to my email configuration. It has left me a little out of the loop for a short time, a problem that took awhile to discern, which I just recently have been able to address.

All in all, it has been a welcome break and I am ready to jump back into the fray more aggressively. I feel like I may have caught a second wind.

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