GEDI: Pedagogical Practices Spring 2015

Fall 2017 Reflection

I am writing about my fall semester today. I am trying to reflect on the fall before moving ahead towards finishing preparations for the spring and before reading my SPOT evaluations. So, these are my reflections, with little outside influence. I am a little nervous to open my SPOTs this fall, though I’m not sure why.

I taught Human Sexuality online this fall. Probably the last time I will teach this course at Virginia Tech, as I am teaching a different majors-only class in-person this spring. I have taught human sexuality multiple times during my years at VT, online and in-person and both for a regular semester and for the short Winter Session. It is one of my favorite classes to teach partly because it is within my area, it is what I have taught the most, and a course I have helped keep up-to-date for the department. I have used a variety of assignments over the years and knew going into this semester being online and a full semester I needed to update my assignments.

I decided to sort of merge some of my regular assignments into a larger semester long project. Instead of every student focusing on certain topics, I gave them an option of five topics to dive deeply into. I also decided that there would be multiple pieces to the assignment to match as closely as I could to the learning objectives, which had just been revised. Overall, this project went wonderfully. I saw so much growth and excitement in the work this semester in a way I don’t remember seeing in any written work I have assigned before. And part of what made it gratifying was due to the fact that I didn’t write some of the questions to guide their assignment until I had read other pieces of the overall project. That helped me tailor the project to the class. I loved this project and hope to keep iterations of it around for a while.

One thing that I have thought about a bit this fall is how I have grown as an instructor over the last few years. I have always been quite strict when it came to due dates, especially for online classes. It is hard to get to know your students’ true lives and styles when the class is online unless they come to office hours. Thus, for the most part I held firm to due dates. However, over the last year I have tried a new thing of discussing “when life happens” in my syllabus. It is a short paragraph about discussing what is going on in your life as it is happening rather than at the end of the semester or long after something is due. My goal for both holding firm to due dates and being flexible is to help with professionalism. Life happens and it affects our work, whether in college or in a professional position. We have deadlines that we must meet and sometimes when life happens, those deadlines go by the wayside. But it is always easier to work with and around those deadlines when honest with those we are working with. So far, this added piece in my syllabus and understanding of what I am doing and why has helped make fore more pleasant semesters.

Those are two of the big things I have been thinking about this semester. I always worry that I am not fulfilling my own teaching philosophy of being feminist enough. And worry that I could be doing so much more for the online classes. Yet, when I see where I have come from to where I am now, I see the growth and development. I see the changes I have made over the years and the changes I will make in the years to come. And that is when I know that I can worry all I want, but it takes time, and I have the time to make the changes in the future. That is part of the wonderful thing about teaching—it is never boring and you are always adapting.

Teaching Philosophy and Portfolios

Now that we are nearing the end of the semester and the Academy (aka GrATE) applications are open again, it seems like an apt time to write about Teaching Philosophies and Portfolios. I like looking over my philosophy and portfolio after a semester is over. I have been fairly prompt in updating everything each semester, though now that I have taught many more semesters, some of my portfolio could be overhauled. While I have enjoyed doing these updates, as it gives me a chance to reflect on the semester, I have also been required to keep a teaching portfolio thus far in my career through GrATE applications and my department’s teaching seminar.

While I was still in my Master’s, I took a course on college teaching. This was at least three semesters before I would ever teach. I am glad I took the course before teaching since it gave me chance to contemplate who I was as an instructor and my teaching philosophy. It was also interesting since I was at a predominantly teaching intensive institution and am now teaching at a research intensive institution. In this course I was provided a template to creating a teaching philosophy. I started with bullet points answering the prompt questions of: 1) My aspirations/goals/objectives as a teacher and for your students; 2) What methods will I consider to reach these goals/objectives?; 3) How will I assess student understanding with examples; 4) How will I improve my teaching?; and 5)Additional considerations of why teaching is important to me, how I collaborate with others, what is successful teaching, and how I maintain positive relationships with students.

While the first draft of the teaching philosophy focused on the hypothetical style of my teaching, I have slowly updated it each year to what it is now. Since I predominantly have taught survey courses to large classes, online and in-person, with students from every college around campus, my teaching philosophy reflects that. I am sure that as I teach higher-level courses, it will continue to shift. I already see some shifts from my original notes to now, particularly related to group work. I also notice shifts in my teaching to better match my philosophy, such as with what I test students on.

I won’t give too many ideas related to how to write a teaching philosophy, since there are dozens of templates and guidelines available online. For example, through Vanderbilt’s Center for Teaching, University of Minnesota, the Chronicle of Higher Education, and The Professor Is In blog and book. Most of them say some elongated version of this: A Teaching Philosophy is a brief essay (1-2 pages) that will give readers (typically hiring/award committees) an idea of what you actually do in the classroom and why. It should be a reflexive, straightforward, well-organized statement that avoids technical terms and favors language and concepts that are easily understood (no jargon). There will be some general statements, but also be sure to include examples that illustrate what you mean.

For Teaching Portfolios, I highly recommend the book, The Teaching Portfolio: A Practical Guide to Improved Performance and Promotion/Tenure Decisions by Peter Seldin, J. Elizabeth Miller, and Clement A. Seldin. The book has numerous examples and styles from a wide variety of disciplines, even my relatively small discipline. It is easy to read and reference, especially for someone first developing a portfolio. I used their guidelines along with guidelines from my department to originally create my portfolio. That has been the basic outline I have used since. In general, a Teaching Portfolio, whether it is digital and fluid, or a single document, helps demonstrate who you are as a teacher. It takes your philosophy and puts additional information to what you claim. You are able to show your teaching strengths and accomplishments, evidence of teaching, and assist in reflections and improvements of your teaching. Some suggested pieces to include in a Portfolio include: 1) Teaching philosophy; 2) Summary of teaching responsibilities 3) Evaluations; 4) Sample syllabi; 5) Sample lesson plans or assignments; 6) Honors, awards, or trainings for teaching; 7) Anything else that shows who you are as a teacher or your identity as an instructor.

I hope as you are developing your philosophy and portfolio, you take the time to reflect on what you want to put forward as your teaching identity. These are dynamic pieces that take time and are constantly works in progress. I have enjoyed working on mine over the years and I hope you do too.

Transformative Graduate Education in a Transformative Year

I have not blogged much this semester. In part because it was a weird semester in that I was not teaching (it is amazing how much that kept me on track with all of my other work!). I also was not taking any theory or content courses and I was not doing any of the Future Professoriate courses for the first time since Semester 1 at Tech. This program was one of the things that drew me to return to my hometown and earn my degree at Virginia Tech. Knowing I wanted to work in academia for my career as a faculty member, the program of preparing future faculty as teachers, scholars, and productive academic citizens greatly appealed to me.

This semester, I have still tried to be involved with Preparing the Future Professoriate (PFP) and Transformative Graduate Education (TGE) as I could. For one, the building of the Academy of Graduate Teaching (GTA) Excellence has gotten some press. I am proud of the work that we have done to build a community of current and future instructors/faculty. I am writing about TGE and PFP, because, though I am not yet a faculty member (someday soon I hope!), I am already seeing the strength of these programs that our wonderful Graduate School Dean has developed for us at Virginia Tech.

This year I was asked to serve as the graduate student representative for a subcommittee to a university project. This subcommittee has faculty, staff, administrators, and students sitting on it along with support staff for the project. The project has gone very differently than I was expecting in multiple ways. The one that has caught my attention time and again has been the lack of understanding of the basic functions of the university by faculty, including the mission statement and how that navigates decisions by administrators. Each time I am able to explain the functioning of higher education and our university, I am thankful for all the opportunities I have had within PFP and TGE. Each time I have a slightly different perspective of where higher education is and where it should go, I am thankful for the programs. I am seeing first hand how having courses and discussions and experiences that teach what life in academia will be and challenging the status quo within that is beneficial as I prepare to enter into the professoriate.

In the last 7 months I have also taken two trips (check out #gppecuador and #gppswiss15 on Twitter!) and in relation to TGE, which really were transformative. Each time I have returned from these trips with my colleagues from across colleges on campus, I have written in my notes that I am excited and proud of the future in higher education and research with them. We are the 21st century faculty. We are the ones who will be higher education, can change it, the ones who can challenge the status quo. More and more I think that takes on a global perspective. The world is getting smaller and smaller with access to Internet and easier travel. When we were at the Swiss Embassy in June, someone from the Council of Graduate Schools brought up that there are plenty of jobs available for finishing graduate students, if you look at the world as a whole rather than solely at the United States. I think our scholarship and understanding of higher education also should not be U.S. centric, rather than seeing the strengths and challenges of higher education around the world. How this looks for each of us, I don’t know. I am not even sure how I want it to look for myself at this point. That is something I am still wrestling with. But, I am confident that as 21st century faculty, we need to understand the global perspective.


Final Reflections

I was traveling last weekend and had decided to bring with me Ann Patchett’s book of essays, This is the Story of a Happy Marriage. I was on the plane flying back to Charlotte when I got to the essay, “Fact vs. Fiction.” It was originally her convocation speech to the Miami University of Ohio in 2005. The essay/speech began with discussing her best friend, whom she had met in college. About halfway through the essay/speech was when I got excited about this particular essay. Below is what she wrote:

“There are two kinds of educational experience you can have in college. One is passive and one is active. In the first, you are a little bird in the nest with your beak stretched open wide, and the professor gathers up all the information you need and drops it down your gullet. You may feel good about this–after all, you are passionately waiting for this information–but your only role is to accept what you are given. To memorize facts and later repeat them for a test might get you a good grade, but it’s not the same thing as having intellectual curiosity. In the second kind, you are taught to learn how to find the information, and how to think about it, for yourself. You learn how to question and engage. You realize that one answer is not enough and that you have to look at as many sources as are available to you so that you can piece together a larger picture….Everyone adds a chip of color to the mosaic and from there some kind of larger portrait begins to take shape.”

In many ways, this one paragraph summed up my teaching philosophy and many of our discussions in class this semester.

The essay/speech goes on to discuss how after you have forgotten the classes taken, the books read, the papers written, you remember the people you met while in school. As I reflect back on this course, I find that true. Though I have gotten to know many new people who I may not have encountered otherwise from across campus and that I did not get to know all, I know that through this course we have a large community of budding scholars and professors who are willing to think hard and work harder to progress higher education into the 21st century. I am excited to be the future of higher education with all of you.

My Thoughts on Online Teaching

So, my department is preparing for summer teaching in the next couple of weeks. For many it is the first time they have taught online (all of our summer courses are online). When I was first trying to figure out online teaching I was talking to everyone I could about it because I found it very intimidating, especially since I had never even taken an online course. I also recently had a conversation in which I was asked to explain what I meant by the fact that online teaching is a “different ballgame” than teaching in class. With these two things in mind, I thought I would write out some of my thoughts on what has worked and has not worked in my four semesters of online teaching. It plays on my mind a lot and I do write about it within some of my other posts, but I wanted to get some of my thoughts in one place. Almost like a 4-semester reflection for myself on what I have learned and still potentially want to change.

Some of how I approach online teaching is influenced by my teaching philosophy, especially in the part that I want students to be self-motivated learners and spend time on areas that excite them the most. At times that is easier than others. I also want them to be somewhat self-sufficient in my class. Something that I have discovered with online classes is that you have to repeat yourself in many different ways and in as many locations on the site as possible. I try and put everything in the same location and label it as clearly as possible (for example: Week 1/ Chapter 1) yet students will still miss the information. One thing I would really like to figure out how to do is to imbed links to the specific folder where information can be found within my syllabus. I may even do that within my introduction PowerPoint. Many students seem to take online classes because of the flexibility of time with them and I try to honor that (in addition to the fact that it also fits within my self-motivated learner philosophy) by having all work open for them 2-3 weeks prior to the due date. I do still use due dates as I want to be sure they turn things in so that I can provide feedback before the next bit is due, though I have contemplated doing away with them completely.

In a similar domain to repeating instructions and information in multiple places and multiple ways, this semester I decided along with my introduction announcement I would include tips and tricks to doing well in my course. It included items such as the fact that my tests are considered hard (I always get this feedback and no matter how hard I try to ease up a bit seem to do—just one of my quirks), to read instructions carefully, and read any feedback provided. I am really glad I did this as it re-iterated certain expectations while still making me approachable as someone who cares and wants them to do well. And in fact, I have seen an improvement in quiz grades (my guess is that they took my advice and studied prior to them rather than relying on the open-book format) and overall work in addition to really good e-mail relationships with students.

In some ways having the anonymity of an online class can be good for students, but there are still ways for them to be seen, heard, and to build a community. I use forums a lot. I sort of fell into using them by accident, but love them for the students. I have them complete a forum every week (multiple in a week for summer or winter courses) within their assigned groups. I aim for 10 students in each group and divide them alphabetically. This backfired on me this semester due to add/drop and have a group of 5 and another group of 16, but I want them to get to know a small group of their classmates rather than all ~80. It has been wonderful to read the posts and watch them grow in their thinking by having to type out what they think or how they understand a concept and explain it to their peers. There are often great discussions through this format. Depending on the prompts, some forums are better than others and get them fired up in different ways. These really do help to build a community, even when we do not meet within a physical space. I have seen people build friendships and support each other through job interviews, sports events, etc. That part has definitely been gratifying but I really cannot take credit for that.

What I like about the anonymity is that it allows students to process controversial topics without the eyes of ~80 of their peers watching. They can read, think about, and form thoughts and opinions before reacting. That is where I often see some great growth. When I read one of their privately turned in assignments and provide feedback and then in their next assignment (or a few assignments later) see how their thoughts have grown or changed. That has been amazing to see at times. It was something that I didn’t necessary feel as though I saw or at least saw so intimately when I was teaching a seat-based course.

If you had asked me a year ago if I would like teaching online, I would have told you no, especially coming from a residential all seat based undergrad experience myself. However, I am truly seeing the benefits of it and love it. Not only do I see the strengths of it (of course there are weaknesses/limitations too, especially in what you are able to do) but I also see how much it has taught me about my own pedagogical beliefs and practices. I feel like for someone like me who is fairly quiet and naturally shy, it has helped me grow and gain confidence as an instructor, so when I do go into the classrooms, even for guest lectures, I have a better handle on what I am doing, how I am teaching, and why.

Connection with Instructors

As I mentioned in the previous blog, on Wednesday I went to the Classroom Inclusion panel. Two different students asked questions of the panel about having more of a community with faculty, getting more support from them, and having more of a connection with their instructors and peers. The answer these students got bothered me, even though I had to agree. The response faculty said was that in some ways they would never get that because faculty at places like Virginia Tech and University of Georgia (where Dr. Bettina Love is on faculty) put more emphasis on research, so to be able to keep their jobs they have to close their door to students frequently.

This is true. If your appointment is anything greater than 40% research there probably is not enough time to have a completely open door policy for our students. I am not saying that one way is better than another and in the end it is what is right for students and individual faculty members, but when I heard those students ask those questions, I felt bad for them. These large research oriented universities have great benefits for students, but there are drawbacks as well.

As someone who came from an extremely small undergrad, it has been difficult for me to not have the individual time and open door policy for my own students that I had with my faculty. I think my biggest class in undergrad was 15 with the average between 3 and 6 (and this pedagogy course may be the biggest one I have ever had). I knew the faculty very well, which I still appreciate. I try my best to get to know my students individually (with the added challenge of it being online) and give them individual instruction and feedback. Though, admittedly, I really can keep about 20 students stories and challenges straight in my head out of ~70 and the rest I keep notes about. When I taught face to face, I would recognize student’s faces but often could not remember their names.

As I mentioned in one of my earlier posts, I often feel like our students are just on a conveyer belt that we help them check off boxes. The Gallup survey has shown that making at least one connection with a faculty member helps students succeed after college. Each student may need different things and will connect with different faculty/instructors. I like to think that it may not be our job to connect with all 100+ students we have in our courses each year, but if we can connect with a few, we are doing our job well.

Pedagogical Style

This week our pedagogy course and my department’s teaching seminar were very complementary. On Wednesday I took the option to hear Bettina Love speak followed by the faculty panel and I am really glad I did. Not only was Dr. Love’s lecture amazing and powerful, the panel gave me a lot to think about.

During the panel Dr. Love was saying how she likes to kill her students with kindness. She tries to be open and flexible with her students. However, that is always within her own pedagogical strategies. Dr. Perez from computer science was also on the panel and he made a comment about doing something similar with deadlines for his students, where they can turn something in until he is done grading them. He also said that deadlines are not make or break for jobs. For them and their pedagogical styles and philosophies are open and flexible.

Those comments and thoughts made me think as it always does when people ask me why I am so strict on deadlines and following instructions with my students. Something I feel is important in every course I teach no matter what the content is to help students develop skills that will last them a lifetime no matter what discipline they are in or what career trajectory they have. Two skills that are important for applying to a job, working at a job, and simple life skill is how to read instructions, which often include deadlines. I have seen people have trouble obtaining work because these skills had not been developed, even with a bachelor’s degree. However, that does not mean that I never budge from deadlines for students. I am aware that life happens (believe me I went through my fair share of life in undergrad). I prefer to be upfront about the fact that I am strict about deadlines and work with students one on one as things come up. It is easier for me to be hard at the beginning and lighten up as the semester happens when need be.

Thursday morning my department has our teaching seminar, which this week was a big group session of all the current graduate instructors. This week we were discussing student feedback in the form of SPOTs and informal evaluations. This was in part to prepare the new instructors with what to expect and tricks those of us who had received them before had used when trying to process them. One discussion that we had was what to do with the feedback we receive. And in many ways that is a tough one, especially for those of us who are people pleasers. As we were talking I came back to Wednesday night’s panel and how in the end it is about what fits with us and our style and philosophy. Of course we should take note of student’s feedback rather than ignore it because we are the “experts”. But as has been pointed out time and time again, we can’t please everyone and each student has a different view of what we do. In the end I feel like we should be proud of the way we taught the course and that it fits with us and our end goals, with the students still in mind.


Critical Pedagogy

This week in class we discussed critical pedagogy. Now, the fact that I am in the social sciences and in a department that has a few critical theorist scholars needs to be kept in mind with what I have to say about all of this.

When I first had to write my teaching philosophy in my master’s program, long before I had ever taught, I remember attempting to write about the desire of challenging student’s notions of how the world is structured and helping students think critically about topics. That is a rough approximation of what I wrote and what I was trying to get at. Then, last semester I started learning about feminist pedagogy, which is connected to critical pedagogy, and finally found some of the language for what I strive for in my classroom.

All of this is my own understanding of critical pedagogy and a bit of feminist pedagogy. With feminist pedagogy and critical pedagogy, there is a learner centered approach and more of an egalitarian classroom. It also acknowledges and understands the fact that we have diverse learning styles (multiple intelligences and neurodiversity). Our classrooms are not homogenous places. People have unique histories and different needs from us. This is part of why it was beautiful that we discussed diversity and inclusion last week and critical pedagogy this week!

Education can empower students to be critically engaged and active participants in society. This is in part by helping students analyze what they are learning and understanding what they believe. It can change their views of the world or help them solidify their beliefs and be able to argue why. They are Deconstructing received wisdom. Something some of the readings were getting at is that knowledge is a social construction. There is no “big T” truth; there are not truly facts without context. All knowledge is built and understood within the culture in which we live and work. We want students to be active agents in the world. If they are challenged to think outside of what is “common knowledge” then they can reflect on their beliefs in relation to others and gain a deeper understanding as to why they hold the understanding, beliefs, and values they have.

If we keep some of this in mind, we can have some dialogical exchanges between teacher and students, where everyone learns, questions, reflects, and participates in meaning making. We are all the learners and the teachers. One way this is done is through reflection. Reflecting on what is being done, on different so-called facts, etc. Taking the time to process what is being discussed and how it relates to you, your life, your beliefs. Sometimes that means rectifying old points of view with new ones. Sometimes that means questioning and reflecting on the nature of our historical and social position in order to effect change in society.

On Wednesday one of my group-mates asked us all about our favorite professor we’ve had. I always go back to a professor I had at Hollins. There were many great ones and I had a wonderful mentor there that helped me learn the ropes of research. However, there was one that changed my world and how I thought about the world. In many ways I was terrified of this professor—she had extremely high expectations of students, but we all wanted to reach her expectations. She challenged us and turned our views on their side to make us figure out why we believed what we did. I am not sure if she would say that her teaching philosophy is based on critical pedagogy (though I would say it is a safe bet to say that she would claim feminist pedagogy). Maybe that is part of why I strive for this sort of philosophy, because it changed me so much.

I am not sure how well I do any of this. It is a high ideal and one that can be difficult to do. For some of the classes I teach it’s easier than others. I was observing one of my colleagues yesterday who is teaching the same thing I am just in class rather than online and I kept thinking how hard it can be to challenge people’s thinking in class and one relatively uncontroversial as child development. So far, I find it easier for online classes than seat based. I think primarily because students can reflect and process everything in their own time and in their own space without 80 of their peers watching and potentially judging. It may feel less like the instructor is forcing their views on them (as it unfortunately can sometimes come across). As an instructor, I can also see where students are at in their thinking a little clearer because they are forced to think about topics and write about them more often. Looking back at teaching online, these are some of the reasons I actually appreciate teaching in that medium.

How do you think you are using critical pedagogy in your own classrooms? Are you? If you want to have a critical pedagogy philosophy, how might you use it in your class?

“Free” Higher Education

I was reading a couple of weeks ago an article discussing some of the benefits and drawbacks of Europe’s model of free or mostly free education for all (of course I now can’t find the article that I was reading to link to for you all). We have this idealized view of having free education for all students, which I agree would be really nice. However, what is the cost of making that change?

One thing about “free” education is that it is not truly free. It may require higher taxes to fund it. There still may be fees associated with going to higher education institutes. I have even heard the argument that just because people might not have to pay for tuition, students still could go into debt for their education because of having to pay for living costs. This is especially the case if a student choses to attend an institution in a city or country in which their family does not reside. Similar to those of us who move great distances in the U.S. to attend the best institution based on our needs and our interests, the move and living independently can be costly.

In the article I read that now can’t be found, a student was saying how with free tuition, institutions were doing all they could to save costs, including having very large lecture classes. We discuss within GEDI about the benefits of hands-on learning and student centered classrooms. Within these large lecture classes and lecture halls in some of these European institutions, who make the decision for financial reasons, are they using some of the techniques that we have been discussing and applied learning?

I did a short period of high school in Germany, where I attended a Gymnasium (one of the academic high schools). One of my clearest memories of the schools was physics. I had already had this particular lesson in my U.S. high school, but I do remember noting a difference in style of giving the lesson. In my U.S. high school, the students were using this toy car within each group to understand the concept. However, in the school I was attending in Germany, we were in a tiered lecture hall with probably close to 50 students and the teacher was demonstrating the concept using the exact same toy car. We could not try it for ourselves. What she said was the lesson. It will be interesting to see how the classrooms and the teaching styles will be similar or different when we visit different institutions in Switzerland and Italy this summer.

Another thing that has been playing on my mind about free education and a primarily public higher education is how much that will limit the types of schools individuals can choose from. Shortly after the announcement of Sweet Briar’s closing, the president of the college, James Jones, said that the “diversity of American higher education…is changing and becoming more vanilla.” In some ways that is becoming true. If schools are not able to hold on financially and students are not able to afford certain institutions, even if they are a better fit for them, we may slowly have only public institutions where everyone is commuting to the campus. What would that mean for diversity initiatives? Would students from diverse and unique backgrounds be able to afford attending unique institutions? If everyone commutes to campus will they truly be exposed to diverse ideas and people by not living with randomly selected people like many of us have when first entering dorm life in college?

I say all this not because I disagree with making higher education more affordable or even “free”. But I think before we hold anything on a pedestal we should look at it critically and see if there may be drawbacks or additional benefits.

The Four P’s of a Great and Powerful Teacher

For those of you who have paid close attention to my blog or my tweets will have noticed that I love Inside Higher Ed and the Chronicle of Higher Education. I have been reading those weekly if not daily since undergrad. It was such a well-known fact about me reading them that the Dean of Students at my undergrad would frequently save the hard copy of the Chronicle that she received for me and I would get it the next time I saw her.

This week there was an article online discussing powerful teachers. It started with the point that recently teaching in higher education has become a much more discussed topic than it once was. That is great and I hope that conversation continues. Isn’t that part of why we are all taking this GEDI course—so that we can discuss and stay on top of the discussion about teaching?

The article then goes on to discuss powerful teachers and what makes people great. One point the author makes is that we all remember certain teachers that were great. That is true—yet I bet if you asked ten people even a year after a course some would rank a teacher as great while others wouldn’t. Again, we can’t all be great for all students. What worked best for me as a student does not necessarily work great for the students I am currently teaching.

Anyways, the author argued that there were four traits or properties that made teachers great and powerful (maybe like the Wizard of Oz?). The four are: Personality, Presence, Preparation, and Passion. Within personality he stated that one should be approachable, professional, funny yet demanding, and comfortable/natural. Some of that goes back to our discussion of authenticity. The second one, presence, he discusses being able to “own” a room, basically referring to being charismatic. This one I have a bit of trouble with because I don’t know that everyone can or should be charismatic. I definitely do not think that I have that characteristic. I am engaged in the classroom when I teach in-person, but I am an awkward person and always have been. I do my best to put that aside, though I think it will always shine through on some level when in front of more than 10 people.

Preparation and Passion I fully agree with. As a student and as an instructor I want and need those around me to be prepared for what we are getting ready to do. I want things laid out logically, or at least as logically as possible. It may make me a workaholic, but I spend many breaks preparing for the next semester, so that when I am in the middle of my own classes and other work, I am not frantically trying to prepare for the course I am teaching. And, admittedly, teaching online helps with that. I also have a great love for my discipline and what I study and teach. Even within my child development course, which is not my main research focus area, I bring in a little bit of what I love and desire within the topic. Though sometimes I worry I do not show my passion or that it does not come across, students actually seem to pick up on it.