While reading on problem based learning, the idea of real world problem solving within the classroom is incredibly valuable to students. Sure, these are just college kids right now, but the end goal is for them to enter the workforce with abilities that would allow for a more informed decision making process based off of the knowledge they obtained during their time in university.
A personal example of what I experienced as an undergraduate at George Mason University was that, as a requirement to graduate in Public Relations, each student must engage with and work for a corporation in their PR department. As an intern for the government contractor Booz Allen Hamilton, I had to work through problems with a team of five in order to satisfy our client’s needs and deal with real world, real time events with little to no notice.
Although I do not hope to become apart of the Public Relations world, I have gained a multitude of skills as a result of that engagement with Booz Allen. Since I took the class relatively early in my academic career, each class I took afterward felt like practice for what I had already gone through. I was able to take away key findings and present work greater than I had ever previously produced. Through incorporating problem based learning into our own personal teaching styles, our students will gain skills that they will hold with them forever, not just for the sake of passing a class.
This week in Contemporary Pedagogy, I dedicated time to reading through the articles assigned to us regarding Digital Pedagogy. Honestly, I found the readings to be rather interesting seeing as we are currently in a purely online format, or at least I am. From here, I was not necessarily sure what to make of the transition at first. I found myself craving the in person interaction, although I think we can all agree that it is nice not having to drive to campus each day. As for my students in the Public Speaking class I teach, I have absolutely found a difference in them between our in person classroom setting and the Zoom one. I feel as though they started to become a bit distant with their coursework and less engaged when the transition first occurred, however, that does not seem to be the case now.
I am not sure if this new shift is because we have more or less become “used to” the pandemic at hand, or if it is because we are purely online for the entirety of this semester. That being said, the only negative shift I have encountered seems to be our students overall attitudes. I often find myself having to play the role of a cheerier individual than I typically am in order to try and lighten the mood within the classroom, but I am not sure if that is because of the online delivery or not. I suppose that life is simply tough for all of us right now, and the only true way for me to tell the difference between online attitudes and in person attitudes is to teach online once the pandemic is totally over.
All in all, the readings this week definitely got the cogs in my brain turning. I am sure that I will continue to see digital pedagogy to some degree in my future, and I hope to become an even better teacher through this experience with Covid.
This week’s readings had me thinking a lot about the type of teacher I am. From thinking about the ways I communicate to my students, to considering what kind of subliminal cues I may be emitting, the articles truly had the cogs in my head turning.
Personally, whether I would like to admit or not, I am someone who spends a lot of time overanalyzing the presentations I make and the words I say because I believe that messages have impact. Because of that, the last thing I would ever want is for a student to feel as though I am excluding them in the classroom. I always make an effort to make my classroom into a safe space where my students can feel comfortable to be themselves, and these days that is done solely by communication over Zoom. I explain often that we are all here to learn, and being a Public Speaking teacher specifically, I know how daunting the class as a whole can be for students who are petrified of speaking in front of a crowd.
Some ways I am able to communicate inclusivity to my students is by explaining that it is completely okay to feel nervous, and that even I do as well from time to time. I make an effort to humanize myself, and show them that its okay to not be perfect. From there, my students usually breathe a sigh of relief because we’re all on a journey together. After all, they are the ones who make me a better teacher, and it is my job to make them better speakers. In addition to that, I also allow for fun “hot seat” exercises on speech days where my students volunteer for me to ask them a random question. That normally makes them feel a bit comfortable speaking in front of a crowd, as well as allows the class to learn a little more about them. They all seem to really enjoy it, and the class as a whole ends up growing together as a community as a result.
This semester, I am taking Contemporary Pedagogy in order to become a more effective instructor for the sake of my students. As an undergraduate, I have had a number of professors in the past who were truly impactful in making me into who I am today, and the best way I figured I could “pay it forward” is to continue to push on with my learning so that I too may be the driving force behind another students’ dream to become a professor.
This week’s readings went over finding your teaching voice as well as how to be yourself in the classroom. Having been a public speaking teacher to more than 240 students since my time began here at Tech, I found this reading to be very reflective of the lessons I had to learn along the way. From building an environment that was inclusive, to knowing the difference between being a friendly instructor and a push-over, I have had to evolve my teaching in order to grow as a teacher. Although I am still growing, I feel confident enough to be myself within my classroom, and I can tell it has a positive impact on the students I inform every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
From the reading, I specifically aligned myself with the thought process put forth by Sarah E. Deel. I put a strong focus on being approachable and enthusiastic, so much to the point where I received my favorite evaluation of all time: “Mans is a hoss, an absolute chief master” to whatever extent that means. I hope to continue to harbor such positivity and mindfulness within the classroom as well as while I continue on my journey to become a professor, following my dream and educating the youth of the world.