Wow. I have had one incredible week! It is going back to school to the fourth power! My children went back to school (three different schools), my husband, also a teacher, went back to school, I went back to school as a teacher , AND I went back to school as a student. WOW!! Back to REAL life it is!
My mind is standing at attention, and I've had to work at talking my body into relaxing a bit- and it's working, thanks to some running, yoga, cooking, massage, live music (saw Jack Johnson this weekend), and pet therapy. I hope everyone else in the cohort (and our tireless instructors) are adjusting to the new school year as well
Just to start out, this picture conveys my feelings as I'm trying to learn APA: This is my son Lohgan learning new tricks on his skateboard. It takes courage and trust in one's abilities to try new things. APA is a new thing for me. I had this image in my mind as I attempted my resources list on this week's Narrable project. (yikes! I am afraid I fell really short).
I know I'll learn APA- it will just take a bit. #olddogscanlearnnewtricks I have found a few resources to guide me, but if anyone has a tried-and-true resource, I'll be grateful for your sharing.
Student Engagement was our topic for Module 1, and I can't think of a better topic with which to begin our program. After all, it is student engagement that allows actual learning to happen. Without students being engaged in what they are learning, there is just a "going through the motions" or "checking the box" (Click here for my "Checking The Box" video featured in my English 11 course) Needless to say, I was thrilled with our week 1 topic. What is Student Engagement? It is that palpable vibration that we, as educators know when we sense it. It is when one of our students has found something of relevance in our course, and we know they are on a learning continuum that is unique to that individual. It is when an educator knows that a student "gets it" and when a student knows he or she has "got it." Student engagement is found at the intersection of what an in-tune teacher has to offer, and what a self-aware and ready student is ready to learn and experience. Student engagement is really a perfect storm of those two things, and includes a bit of tech and school savviness on behalf of both parties.
This week I experienced the whole spectrum of the Student Engagement concept in both my professional and personal lives. I do know why it is desirable to be able to measure student engagement. (We want to know if we are doing it right and if we are effective). I also know that it is difficult to measure something as intangible and personal as student engagement. (What makes us unique as human beings is that we are innately different, and different elements make us tick). I can meet in the middle and say, "Let's do our best to design lessons and curriculum based on what we know from data collection, but let's also not forget that every student is an individual and invites a unique connection." I know that. I can do that. My family and friends will tell you that that is how I operate as an educator. I endeavor to design curriculum based on what I have found to be engaging for most students, but (in the independent study model where I am fortunate enough to teach) I strive to be observant of individual student needs, and tailor my communication assistance individually.
After a marathon week, and a Saturday evening spent enjoying a concert, I devoted literally ALL of Sunday to my graduate school work. I couldn't believe how fast the day went as I started with coffee and some reading, progressed to some laundry, a bit of breakfast and my entire Narrable project and Weebly website design for EDL 630. Talk about student engagement! Suddenly I realized it was 6:30 pm, my muscles were stiff, I had eaten only one meal, and I really did need to stop and take a break. I went for a long walk and then created a scrumptious dinner (garlic-basil shrimp linguine) for my husband and I, and we watched an episode of Orange Is The New Black. Only after a break was I ready to start up the computer again and reflect.
My reflection is this: Student Engagement is just as important as content in our courses. And it is difficult to quantify. As educators we are charged with knowing our content and then presenting it in such a way as to be engaging to our learners. It might mean that we have to be creative, or think like someone much younger than ourselves, but it will make all the difference in how our students interact with our lessons. Student engagement is everything.
That said, my Narrable needs a lot of work :) I'd like to think it is engaging, but upon review, I know several of my slides are text heavy. I am a wordy gal, and that is something I will have to work on to help ensure the engagement of my students :)
Happy holiday weekend everyone!