Search This Blog

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Whoa, I can't believe we're going to start this

I spent the day with Liz, going through all SUSTAINers (this is my new name for students in the program). We ensured via checking their Cal Poly records that all were in fact signed up for the classes and had also taken the required courses outside their major. This was an impossible task, were it not for Liz's amazing powers to manage detailed complexity and her secret knowlege to every "big-brotherish" on-line website.

We then sent individual emails to each of the 42 students.  It was absolutely thrilling to see that only 2 of what we thought were the original 44 had actually disappeared on us!  (I'm thinking this is a small number).

I awoke in the night this week, FREAKING OUT over the level of details that we need to manage in order to prevent an absolute train wreck for the spring courses.

This is how I know that the universe is helping us: There is miraculously no scheduling conflict between the SUSTAIN block of courses and three additional courses that are needed for students to progress.

I would really be crazy if I were not scared about this whole experiment, but it seems that we are now in the right place at the right time...  onward.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Refection Nazi

Since we have shifted a bit from studying the students participating in SUSTAIN to understanding what it takes to be a teacher in this collaborative environment, I have been requesting reflections at the end of each of our design meetings. This last time, someone (it could have been me) referred to me as the "reflection nazi." I laughed, then thought how absurd!!!!

This is so similar to the dilemma I am working through as a teachers. It goes something like this: I want students to be engaged and knowing about research on engagement (Pink), there are three things that will motivate well: Mastery, Meaning and Autonomy. To satisfy Autonomy, I often let students make choices about how assignments are weighted in the final grade, or even which method (constant homework or term project) they would like to do. [as a side note, it feels a bit like when I use to ask my kids, if they wanted a long timeout or a short timeout?]. But what if they choose not to do anything? I think I remember a study of students (maybe at the Waldorf school, I don't know) who were allowed to go to recess for as long as they liked. For several days, the students spent all their time outside playing, until they saw the fun science projects the teachers were preparing. I wonder if education could be like this. So engaging that students choose to learn. Then I go back to us (me - the Refeltion Nazi), could we as faculty be so interested in our own learning that we want to live reflectively? Could we model this for the students? Instead of forcing, we create an environment where learning is the choice? I'm just asking this - to quote Linda.