Building confidence through learning… and failing

Currently I am an MFA Candidate in my first-year studying Arts Leadership through the Performing Arts Department. One of the benefits of this program is the ability to take electives that are offered throughout the school and I chose this course as I wanted the opportunity to explore and build better teaching practices. Prior to my enrollment here at Virginia Tech I had an opportunity to co-teach a course, and in doing so, it re-invigorated my own craving to learn. In this course I hope to have a better understanding of what styles and skillsets I can achieve by learning more about how to teach. With so many formats and tools available to the teachers of today; how can I utilize them to help spark curiosity and foster a sense of empowerment to the students of today.

In our F2F discussion on Wednesday we discussed some of the real challenges around ethics and privacy of Learning Management Systems (LMS) such as Canvas. In all honesty, while I have accessed Canvas’ analytics tools and spreadsheets and found it’s helpful to have the option to consider how much a student may be working inside the course’s online content, however I believe it to be an additional factor, rather than a deciding factor. To me, more clicks does not equal more learning. Rather, it’s another way I can assess impact of the course. Did the student take the time to try and find an answer on their own before they reach out to send a direct email to their inquiry? Have they expressed curiosity by clicking through the resources I have curated on this platform to assist their learning? Or what tools and resources students spent little to no time with that can help me as I prepare to improve for future classes.

The counter – arguments made during our discussion were new to me, I was unaware until that moment how these tools are monetized, nor had I given much thought to the uninformed consent that students give away by engaging with an LMS. I’m excited and look forward to exploring new and different approaches to learning, as we dig in deeper into these and future areas of focus.

In our class readings, open sourced learning was applauded in Working openly on the web: a manifesto. I can see the positives in creating your own digital identity, thereby having a place where your own voice can be heard, as well as allowing our work to be a building block to others, as well as ourselves. The theory sounds very harmonious and utopian, yet the world wide web still instills a fear that shocks me to the core, as I have yet to discover confidence in my own voice through writing. Or perhaps, there was once I time I learned like Baby George in which I had confidence and joy in sharing my own opinions. Furthermore, when those expressions are unclear I can be able go back and make refinements, and the act of modification isn’t seen as a weakness for not getting it picture-perfect the first time. That even after falling down many times, as Baby George does, I could get back up with a smile and try again; learning and progressing each time.

Dr. Wesch goes on in his Ted Talk to speak to the approaches he has taken to instill positive motivators for students, as well as himself, to learn and engage in the classroom and beyond. Through drawing he is able to share a vulnerability so that other students can emulate that it’s better to keep on trying and through that continued effort we can discover our own empowerment that makes us heroes to those around us.

In addition to thinking about what leads to real learning for the students that and ways we can use networked learning to create that environment, I can also take part in that discovery. As I am vulnerable in writing this blog, however, only by continuing to write will I feel more confident in how my thoughts are articulated through doing it.


*Please note this blog has been created to fulfill a course requirement for GRAD 5114 Contemporary Pedagogy this Spring 2019 at Virginia Tech.

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3 Responses to Building confidence through learning… and failing

  1. cdimaio says:

    Hi Corrie,

    You are a great example of how/ why a medium like this can be effective. I am new to operating within this domain and as such, am apprehensive using it. It is reinforcing and somewhat comforting knowing that the thoughts and feelings that I have regarding this topic are also shared. I think that this concept can be widely used regardless of the topic or area of concern.

  2. slharrell says:

    Hi Corrie,

    I am so excited about your story of how co-teaching a course ignited a fire in you and a desire to develop your own pedagogy and discover more in the world of teaching and learning. I think you make a valid point about how teachers should strive to spark curiosity in their students AND empower them to be agents in their own lives. The part about vulnerability is important, too. We have to show our humanity to our students, it’s a giant leap towards fostering a conscious and courteous learning community. When we model for our students what we wish to see in the class, it doesn’t take long for them to pick up on that and reflect it back to us.

    I hear you on the scary-internet-world piece. A lot of what you mentioned is unfortunately a part of the reality of the internet. It’s not easy, but I try and suppress those fears in myself… the reason why is that I try not to let my fear govern me and I certainly reject the invisible bullies out there that try and control me and my actions. I feel like we as educators and emerging professionals have a responsibility to be the beacons of light for our students and the public at large. In the end, you have to ask yourself what you will do with your power and how you will leverage it to be a part of those who are striving to create a better world…or not.

    • corrie says:

      Thanks for your thoughts Sara; I agree! Our invisible bullies shouldn’t keep us and our students from enhancing our skillsets. However, it’s also worthwhile to recognize when it can be a challenge to do so.

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