How Each Blog Idea Became a Blog
One Thing I Learned From Each Blog
The third year of this challenge is over, and I must admit that it was a challenge, not the writing part but thinking about what to write. So for this year’s reflection, in one sentence, I will explain how each blog’s idea became a blog, and in one sentence, I will explain one thing I learned from writing each blog.
The idea for this blog was easy because I had this idea since the 9x9x25 challenge last year.
The one thing I learned from writing this blog is that since writing is the main way of online communication, as teachers, we should keep ‘writing, writing and writing’ as the main learning tool in our online courses.
The idea for this blog came up during a phone call I had with another faculty from another college.
The one thing I learned from writing this blog is that there are colleges out there making the costs of textbooks cheaper for students and that there are many great non-textbook alternatives.
The idea for this blog came up when I was sitting at home in a conference call meeting.
The one thing I learned from writing this blog is that from my research I’m not alone in believing one can multitask during a conference call meeting and still have a productive conference call meeting.
The idea for this blog has always been something I wanted to put in my courses’ syllabi.
The one thing I learned from the replies I received to my blog is that there are other professionals who agree that students should learn how to write a professional email, and, now, I have the link to put in my courses’ syllabi so my students will know how to email me.
This idea for this blog came up after I had a few conversations about the flipped classroom model with a few colleagues.
The one thing I learned from this blog’s survey, which is the blog itself, is that for at least one faculty the flipped classroom is more beneficial for the teacher and the student than the traditional classroom model.
This idea for this blog has always been a thought because learning from mistakes in general at a teacher has been a 15 year plus process.
The one thing I learned from writing this blog is that I will probably have three more mistakes to write about in another 15 years 🙂
This idea for this blog always comes up around this time of the semester because the last 9x9x25 blog is close to the semester’s end when I start getting emails from students asking for help.
The one thing I learned writing this blog is that my empathy for my students extends from my personal experiences with the emphatic college teachers I’ve had in the past, and this empathy for my students has not wavered because I have a daughter and wife in college, which allows me to see and feel the students’ perspective.
A summary, I explain to my classes, is an explanation of just the author's main ideas in your own words. It condenses a piece of text and gets straight to the point. I would sum up my writing in the last few weeks as a strong start with poor follow-through (how typical of me and my average student!) and more negative than I wanted it to be. When they asked me if I wanted to do the 9x9x25 challenge, I honestly thought it would be simple, not really a challenge at all. After all, I love to write, I already blog and I'm a storyteller by nature. It hasn't been the experience I expected, however. I have fallen short of my 9 posts because I got stuck good and deep in the seventh week. Somewhere 7 or 8 paragraphs into a blog post/rant, I came to the realization that my writing has been overwhelmingly whiny, a laundry list of complaints about the system- from testing, to former teachers, to other professors, to my students- and I didn't know how to dig myself out of that hole. Because that really isn't how I feel. I love teaching. It's not infrequent for me to leave class singing. My students energize me and infuse me and I invariably leave them in a better mood than I walked in with. So why the preachy passages each week?
A quote, I go on to tell my students, is the author's ideas in the author's own words. However, I always warn, quotes should be used sparingly and only when the author's words are so beautiful, powerful, or vivid that you could not say it any better yourself. The latest blog began by explaining my long history of getting emotional about education like this, "When it comes to learning, I've always had what could best be described as an overdeveloped sense of self-righteous indignation." It went on to describe in detail incidents where I have lost my cool at various teachers over the years as a result of letting that indignation win out over my common sense and finally settled into my latest diatribe against a certain large publishing group's online learning program that my students were struggling to use.
I define a paraphrase as all the author's ideas in your own words, clarifying that since this method gives you roughly the same amount of text as the original, it's best suited to writing about short pieces of writing or for supporting details you'd like to use to back up your points. According to that probably never-to-be published post of mine, the mandatory pretests meant to assess students current levels were poorly designed; the content was organized and presented in such a way that is would only overwhelm and bore my students; and the body of material covered was unlike that which is tested on the actual GED. Because of all this, I went on to say, this program should not be mandated for use in our adult education program (which it is.)
Can you see why I got stuck? I just had nowhere to go from there. For two weeks, long after the post was due, I kept coming back to that lengthy diatribe and rereading and editing what I had already written but couldn't seem to finish it on a positive note. Personally, I despise a whiner who complains and complains but has no better solution. Ask my students; I scold them for it. There I was, moaning about a problem, with no solution at all. Finally, I realized I needed to do something more productive about my problem than a blog rant.
So, don't expect anymore posts from me for a while. If you need me, I'll be in my office, busily typing away. I'm working on a new project- YC GED classes in Canvas with my own assessments and my own content- an online class that actually aligns with the GED. And you can quote me on that!
Last fall, Todd came to my office to tell me about a project that he called the 9x9x25. Would I be interested? At the time I was neck deep in problems with Blackboard and a new instructor. I thought that it would be too much for me at that time. Stop by next time and I will do it, I said.
This fall, Todd stopped by my office to tell me about this project he had called 9x9x25. I told him yes. I think his jaw hit the floor when I told him. After I said I would do it, I felt unsure. So as any good nurse will tell you, if you do not know… research it.
I viewed the previous Tels webletter looking at the blogs that were posted. My first thought was how can I ever be as good as any of those other writers? I am simply a nurse who is an educator. I found words and phrases that I had to look up with my internet enabled device. I had dictionary.com as a favorite. As I perused the entries I discovered it was not the big words that kept my attention, it was the ideas behind it. I loved looking at what worked or didn’t through the eyes of other instructors.
I never have been good at reflecting. This 9x9x25 encouraged me to look critically and reflect on myself and my teaching practices. There were things that I discovered along the way that I feel I did well and practices that could use some (a lot of) improvement. I have also discovered when reading other posts that students are the same whether they are in Spanish, Math, English or Nursing. My breed of students are like all of the others and we all have basically the same problems. What a relief! I thought I was unique!
Now to move forward, there are many ideas rolling around in my cranium. Teach students how to use the textbook, think critically, improve test scores and most importantly, be caring for their patients and colleagues. I have a lot to do and not much time before the next semester starts. My new goal is to make students life long learners and not review and flush the information.