Image courtesy of Joe DeSousa
It’s been a while since I last blogged and it isn’t for lack of desire. There are a number of things that I have been reflecting on and considering writing about, but none of them have really developed into a full blown post as of yet. Actually, they are a bit muddled in my mind really, floating about, bashing into one another, but nothing coming from it as of yet. I felt I just needed to get in front of the keyboard an start typing, hoping that something will spark and lead to a post. This is the result. So, if you are looking for a coherent, well-structured, focused post, you might as well walk away now since this is probably going to be a bit messy.
Here are are some of the things that I have been thinking about in no particular order of importance or with any logic whatsoever:
- What is with the obsession with badges in education? I am barely grasping the concept of gamification vs. game-based learning (BTW, my autocorrect hates the term gamification and consistently changes it to gasification – I wonder if there is a correlation somewhere). To me, it is simply a modern version of the ‘gold star’. To me, it feels like we are producing a competitiveness within the classroom that simply shouldn’t be there. Also, doesn’t this just reinforce extrinsic motivation instead of fostering intrinsic motivation? I don’t teach young children, so I should really let others with more expertise in this area take the reins on this, but something doesn’t feel right to me. It reeks of behaviourism and a very teacher-driven system. When it comes to badges for adults, I really don’t get it. It feels like a ‘look a me!’ type of thing. I would prefer to let me actions speak louder than my badges. Again, this is just me pondering. I am open to hearing what others have to say about this.
- I have been reading a lot lately about being more critically minded in the classroom, especially when it comes to cultural differences and situations. It has caused me to think a great deal about what I choose to teach (that should tell you something right there) and how I can best help my students take control of the situations in their lives. For many, their lives are in a state of flux or they feel that their hands are tied and unable to make meaningful changes in regards to their current state of living. The first question I am starting to ask myself when preparing for class is, “How is this going to help my students to change their own world?” Even my choice of technology is being affected by this mentality. What happens if my students don’t have access to the tools needed to change their lives? How can I help improve that for them? What can they learn from being in this classroom that will help them get a job, deal with the inequality they are facing as newcomers to Canada, and overcome the other problems they are facing on a daily basis? It is quite a bit to take in for me at the moment and this will need some time (possibly the rest of my career) to develop into something that really makes a difference.
- This debate about “Demand High” and other forms of methodology / approaches to language education seems to be a bit of a tempest in a teapot. It feels like the basis of this is a desire to motivate teachers to become the best teacher they can be for their students. Yes, I have certainly met some of those teachers who teach for the paycheque or the chance to travel the world (neither of those are bad unless they are the sole reason for teaching), but a new approach is certainly NOT going to change that. In other words, I feel like we are preaching to the choir here. Those who want to change, will change even without the rhetoric of a ‘new’ and ‘better’ way of thinking, and those who don’t will simply shut them out. I would rather have someone who has limited training, but is willing to listen than someone who has tons of experience but doesn’t give a flying fig about the students.
- I started my online professional journey on Twitter just over three years ago and it has been such a roller coaster of a ride along the way. I have had my highs and lows and my posts have reflected that as well. What is amazing, is what I have learned along the way and the people that have made that happen. It probably shouldn’t surprise me, but it still does for some reason, but a majority of that learning has come from the people who most people don’t even know. It isn’t the bigwigs or edu-celebrities who have impacted my life (to be honest, I have learned some thing from them, but unfortunately mostly negative), but it is the people in the trenches, slogging it out day after day that have touched me the most. They are real, approachable, and often times, the most honest when interacting with me. Their feedback, both positive and not-so-positive, is what I take to heart. They see me for who I am and are STILL willing to be part of my online social life (since my real social life is rather lacking). We discuss things, share a laugh or two, and share our struggles and triumphs along the way. It would be dangerous of me to list all of those who have been a part of it since I would miss someone and then feel terrible for doing that, but if you are reading this, you are likely one of those since those who have zillions of followers don’t usually visit here . . . at all. So, thank you. I owe you a beverage or two.
- I struggle with my online presence from time to time. I am torn between the need to keep yourself visible for present and future employment, but I hate making it all about me. I fear that others will see what I am doing as self-promotion (ie. ego) and be turned off. If you were to ask me what I really want to do with my online interactions, it would be help people and to learn from them. If you ever feel like I am ever going down the road of “look at me!”, you have the right to pull me over and give me a ticket for stupidity (do they have a badge for that?). At times, I have worked so hard to have people take me seriously, that I start becoming irrelevant. I don’t want that. Ever. Please, don’t give up on me whenever you feel I am heading that direction. I am open to hearing what you have to say.
- I have been debating for a long time now about what to do about my future in this career. I absolutely love teaching. Love it. I don’t ever want to leave the classroom, but I feel that to get any stability for the long term, you need to step out of the classroom and head into the admin office. To be honest, that scares me. It isn’t that I don’t think I could do the job, I think my experience in business and teaching lends itself quite nicely to that, but I feel like I would be giving up one of the things I have found in this life that I truly enjoy doing. This goes together with the other thought about doing more education (ie. a doctorate). What happens if I head that direction and I end up hating it? I think I would enjoy the research aspect of it, but my day-to-day life of being at the grassroots level inspires me and I don’t want to lose that. *sigh*
Well, that is all for now. There is plenty more from where that came from, but I feel like I have probably done enough damage for one day. Feel free to comment, or not.