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One Foot on the Soap Box | Week 4

June 22, 2010

Week four of our six week summer session brought out my politic with a vengeance.

The lesson plan for the week, which entailed students interrogating several learning theories including George Siemens’ Connectivism, Nel Noddings concept of pedagogical care, and Jeff Duncan-Andrade’s critical pedagogy along side of theories of moral development, ethnic identity development (including White identity), and behaviorism, left multiple opportunities for me to weigh-in philosophically and to fill in gaps, make corrections, and re-direct students’ analysis of the various theories.  Although I believe I acted in accordance with my values and aspirations, I also recognize I took up a lot of “air time,” especially compared to previous class meetings.

What are the potential impacts of an educator stepping up onto her soap box?  I believe the impact resides on a continuum between profound and forgettable.  I cannot predict the outcomes of my preaching the “gospel of GNA” today on my students’ construction of meaning related to learning theories. I do know based on their energetic engagement with the content, they indeed were mucking about in the theories we explored this week. I’m also quite certain some felt cognitive dissonance and disease in the muck; whether with the theories themselves or some stress related to the demands of the day. Lastly, I know they enjoyed themselves because the days were lively and filled with laughter–the ebb and Flow of our teaching and learning.

Ultimately, I feel okay with inserting myself into the dialogs that transpired through the day. I am confident the community of practice we have formed over the last few weeks is robust enough to handle what I bring to the mix on any given day–too much caffeine, not enough sleep, or righteous indignation about the state of Schooling today. I am also confident in my students’ capacities to discern between Truth(s) and my truth(s).

My best days, when I’m feeling the most efficacious in my vocation, are built through the meaningful interactions between myself and the students I’ve the privilege to accompany in their preparation to become teachers. Regardless of the various roles I inhabit throughout any given day (leader, follower, companion, champion, challenger, judge, jester, messer-upper, etc.), I am always a student of my students. This week my students reminded me, by their rapt attention to my soap-boxing, I always possess the Power in our relationship–no matter what I do to equalize the learning community–I am looked at and listened to as the Professor.

This week I professed. Students listened. I learned.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 23, 2010 11:00 am

    Wow!

    This is inspiring education in its finest form with everyone being the learner including the Professor – and that the Prof. recognizes her power in this ‘could-be’ precarious relationship. What resonates with me most are the words “discern” and “vocation” and that you have honoured your calling responsibly with reflection in order to grow…

    Thank you.

    …Ellyn

  2. Stephan Stacey permalink
    June 28, 2010 3:06 pm

    I think your acknowledgement of the fact that ultimately you still have the power position in the educational experience taking place in our classroom (and understand the implications of that fact) is a very important distinction to make.

    Despite our growing confidence in exploring the material, and perhaps a resulting self-perceived feeling of having fully grasped it at time, we must realize that until we are able to move from theory and classroom hypotheticals to actual practice, that we still need you to be a Morpheus willing to redirect and shape our exploration, sometimes forcefully, when required to keep us moving towards the bigger picture that we can’t truly see..

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