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Am I Actually Teaching?

Now that we are all online and/or live online and/or hybrid instructors, regularly checking for “attendance” in our courses, managing last date of attendance (LDA), reaching out to disappearing students, responding to student email, sending class announcements, and managing video meets are likely feeling like the norm. As students and teachers alike settle into these new learning environments, and the scorching summer heat dissipates, I hope we can all take a few moments to reflect on the work we have done and the work we have left to do this semester. (I also hope we all can take a few moments for self care as well, but that is a different blog entry topic!)

One reflective question that a number of colleagues and I have been discussing these past couple weeks is: 

“Am I actually teaching?” 

Our conversations have been enjoyable…and revealing. It turns out that teaching well in an online space is…ummm…challenging. Many of us have discovered that what comes easily to us in the physical classroom feels uncomfortable or unnatural in the virtual classroom. Probing questions that lead to engaging, thoughtful discussions amongst students now require a “delivery solution” or a “new tool” or “best practice strategy”. We have learned that even our relatively simple, in-class lectures paired with a slideshow now require new approaches and/or tools to create student engagement and deliver it effectively. And we are learning that formative assessments need to be much more calculated when we can’t “feel the energy of the room”. Alas, we are learning and modifying and adapting as we go. Teachers rock that way, but we still find ourselves questioning all that we are doing.

Turns out…some of us aren’t actually teaching (or not as well as we could be). So then we asked each other: 

“How can we do better?”

We have learned that we must be more specific and thoughtful in how we approach teaching and learning. Specifically, we have learned things like:

Reflection is valuable. I will continue to reflect because I want to continue to improve. For me, part of that improvement process has always included asking colleagues for suggestions, feedback, and help. And, let me tell you, some of my favorite colleagues that are always ready to talk teaching and learning are in the CTLE

If you have any questions or want to learn more about any of the ideas and suggestions in this entry, please feel free to reach out to me or go to the CTLE virtual office hours.

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