Our last class focused on reflection, checking in with one another, and having dialogues about the final project. The largest concern regarding the final was to reiterate to one another that it should only be building off of the immense work that we’ve already completed together during the crisis.
2–3 pm Asynchronous:“Meta reflection” and “exit tickets”) See two Prompts below.
3–4 Synchronous Class Meeting on Webex
3–3:10 Schedule, check in, requirements for rest of term
Upcoming: Group 1 and 3 post public facing wrap-up to student-facilitated classes in our HASTAC Group.
- Everyone read all three group posts
- Write a brief response (25–50 words fine) in the comments section on posts by the other two Groups.
Upcoming: Final projects due.
- Send copy (or link) of final project
- Post to HASTAC (either fully public or just in our class group— you can choose)
Note: Don’t overwork your final projects. You have all done a lot already.
3:10–4:00 Final discussion questions.
- How to survive in institutions that reward the status quo?
- How to organize in a classroom?
- How to cultivate an “exit strategy”?
- How to encourage participation in a “completely asynchronous” class?
- How to manage student expectations? Obsession with the A.
PROMPTS 2-3 PM: ASYNCHRONOUS
PROMPT #1: “Exit Ticket” and “Meta Reflection”: Jot out two or three things from being a student/teacher in “Introduction to Transformative Learning and Teaching” (before and during the COVID pandemic) that will have an impact on your future teaching-learning (obuchenie).
Anonymous Select Learning Community Responses
“Perhaps the single greatest takeaway is that in any class, particularly one during a semester that goes very much not according to plan, having a classroom community built on trust and intellectual engagement makes a huge difference, particularly when discussing sensitive topics. I always felt safe and respected and engaged with when I spoke/contributed in class. From the discussion with Dr. Polish to the class that included cooking and mindfulness exercises, I was definitely pushed more to think about the people in the classroom (students and professors) as people.”
“I’ve reconsidered the transformative potential of intentional learning communities— the labor and the reward of building a community on trust, good-faith, and honesty. The best way to teach online seems to be by talking about/learning things that people are interested in learning. A collaborative approach to the syllabus/readings/discussions means everyone has a stake in the time you spend together.How we approach the class and teaching/learning will shape so much of our experience with students. If we hold the knowledge of others in reverence, we avoid falling into the trap of thinking we are “rescuing” people with our knowledge and expertise and the “master/student” binary.”
“One key takeaway for me has perhaps been the concept of the collectividual as it pertains to inner class dynamics. I find this initiative to be both deeply empowering and aspirational, since it is no doubt a great challenge to sustain a sense of balance between the individuals in a class and the class as a whole unto itself. Seeing as how comfortable I feel in contributing to our discussions, and how non-judgemental our class tends to be when I do, I feel as if to some extent we have achieved a version of this ideal. In many ways, I think this segues well into my second takeaway: namely, my faith in the notion that a given classroom should embody above all else a community of people. When teachers and learners alike are prepared to present themselves in honest and forthright ways, I believe the best of us tends to emerge. That vulnerability to me is intrinsically motivating in that we leave so much of our educational baggage at the door, in turn opening ourselves up to new opportunities and new insights in ways otherwise unavailable when grading and power structures enter into the teaching and learning process. As far as distance learning is concerned, I believe these practices are all the more important, if only because online learning spaces usually disincentive us from coming together as a team, as a collective, because they maintain a decentralizing effect on the social community of the classroom itself. The tools and technologies leveraged in distance learning are thus only as good as the humans who use them — who bring them to the fore in engaging and humanistic ways, rather than depending on them to do the work we instructors signed up to fulfill.”
“Do check-ins/check-outs for each class session. I think we take for granted how the classroom space holds closeness, both in proximity and in community formation. Before ‘jumping right into business,’ it is important to ask everyone first how they are feeling and if they are at a certain capacity to engage for the day. Otherwise, misunderstandings will arise and carry on in the long-term. It is also important to close-out with reflection, as a way to understand that what was held in the shared space is honored and stays ‘in the room’ (i.e., the people involved in the circle). This creates safety and security in the shared space and allows for building better communication as individuals and within social groups.”
“There are many other things I could mention that will be very helpful for future teaching-learning, but overall this was a wonderful class to learn and form methods of engaged teaching and transformative learning. This class showed how even the “smallest things” (i.e., name cards, discussion line-ups, non-textual responses, flash cards!) require conscientious (re)calibration so that everyone is able to participate and feel included and heard/seen.”
“This course gave such a boost to my confidence, I will never forget it. Reading about modalities that are different from what I have experienced, centering the voices of those who are not usually in front of the room, and knowing that what I’ve learned via organizing is applicable in my role as an educator are all invaluable lessons. I will also keep with me the idea that everyone is an expert and that an invitation to share expertise can set the tone for a classroom. Creating space for work to be presented via different forms such as via art was a good reminder.”
“[It is so important to] offer multiple ways to participate— creativity is appreciated. Stray from the typical writing assignments. Keeping in mind that the students in our classes are more than just ‘students.’ We all come with different experiences and perspectives— be conscious of coloniality. Mindfulness is rewarding. Take a few minutes to incorporate mindfulness in everyday routine. Understand the affordances and constraints when using technology. Read the fine lines before giving away your personal information.”
“Really articulate to myself what I want a class to look like if I’m in the teacher role. Be more uncompromising in doing things to try to make that happen— in the past I’ve taken the ‘standard’ approach as being the baseline and made modifications. But I haven’t really taken a strong position to make sure that everyone in the class understands what it is that I think the classroom can be useful for (an opportunity to connect to your own thoughts/feelings about material being discussed, and publicizing those thoughts/feelings to a group)... Basically: lay out a much clearer picture of what the class can be in the first and second classes… and that can really set the course of the whole class. A more distinct mindfulness based intro to the classes, so people can get settled and attuned to the class… I realize the issue of ‘people wanting to get good grades and be conventionally successful’ vs. ‘classroom as an opportunity to have deeper, more self-connected experiences’ is a major one. What do you do when a lot of a class just wants to get good grades? (And rightfully so given how the world works).”
“There are many ways to build a sense of community— whether online or in-person— and it starts with understanding that our students have so much they can offer outside of just being a student. As instructors, we need to find ways to tap into and celebrate that. The asynchronous-synchronous writing with comments is an awesome way to encourage interaction without the video component. Make the learning real - in the context of the current global pandemic, we as teachers can help students make connections between what we’re discussing in-class and what is happening in the world around us.”
“For me, this class has been very informative and inspirational. I’ve been greatly impacted by all of the astounding people in this class – from the professors, the Ta, and each one of my colleagues. I’ve been exposed to ideas and modes of thought that – some were totally new, and others, finally had a name put to them. Additionally, this class has reinforced many of the beliefs about the role, place, and significance of education in the totality of our lives. It has also strengthened my resolve to be a part and factor in the revolutionization of contemporary education – changing the paradigm and long-term trajectory of global education for the new millennia (the 21st century). It has made me certain that my soul’s mission of education reform through creating, developing, and opening my own school/educational system-network, is exactly what is needed in these uncertain times. We have an incredible opportunity to reimagine and redesign our educational system to finally include the diversity of our global society. Ultimately, this class has given me hope— hope that there are many others who share my interest and determination to change the status quo. I have truly enjoyed meeting, working with, and learning from each of you. And, I hope to maintain this connection into the future.”
- What one thing would you most like to talk about in class today, in our last day of all being “together” as a class? Note: A blogpost that may be of interest to you to read in your own time “The Single Most Essential Requirement for Designing a Fall Online Course.”
“How in particular might we as transformative educators navigate the tension spaces inherent in the university today? Where is there recourse for us to make revolutionary change in the academy when our jobs are likely to be at some point precarious, especially in light of recent events? What’s more, I think we ought to devote further time to the prospect of teaching online in the fall, and how we might use this chaotic moment as a means of evoking radical change in the university, rather than sitting by and allowing neoliberal forces impose disruptive technology upon us, in turn further devaluing our position as transformative educators.”
“Considering that there is a likelihood that the Fall semester will be conducted remotely, what are ways to encourage students to be active participants in classes while remaining completely asynchronous? What are some guidelines on flexibility? Do we opt to remain flexible with all assignments? (regular online class vs. online because of circumstances).”
“How do we not lose ourselves as we go deeper into the academia world?”
“I would rather listen to everyone else today.”
About six months after our class ended, this book offered an opportunity to reconnect with students in the class to check-in and if the class had provided anything useful to their emergency remote fall semesters. A few of those responses are produced below. As said in the introduction, we encourage any readers who adapt or reimagine any of these lesson plans to let us know on HASTAC.org or on Twitter using the #fight4edu. We hope you will consider checking out the sister companion to this book based on our class on mindfulness and experiential learning in Chapter 8 and the brilliant final project idea of Dree-el Simmons. We Eat: A Student-Centered Cookbook is also available on Manifold.
“I have used and will continue incorporating a variety of our class introduction techniques. It's been a challenge doing them online, but students love them.”
“I've gone back and built on/improved the syllabus I drafted at the end of the class. As planned, I used it as the syllabus for the classes I'm currently teaching and it's going really phenomenally. I can't say enough about how valuable a space this leaning community was to me— it really gave me a chance to articulate so many of my ethics and values regarding pedagogy and learning in real and impactful ways.”
“The most significant thing I return to that I associate with the class is the feeling of possibility one can have when teaching. That an excellent starting point for teaching is not how have things been done; but how can things be done— and how should things be done.”
“What stuck with me most was the relationships and community we formed, as well as the feeling of safety and collective learning. Perhaps no lesson encompassed what I loved about the class more than the student-led week where we shared recipes and [group 2] walked us through a mindfulness activity of breathing and getting in touch with our bodies in a way I hadn’t since before COVID began. This class will stick with me forever.”
“I think the most memorable topic for me is in regards to mindfulness and experiential learning. I am currently teaching an online introduction to psychology class with 123 students. I think back to our class discussions about unique student experiences, and try to engage my own students to participate in the class discourse. I hope that students can make more meaningful connections to the topics that they are learning by relating them to their personal experiences.”
“It's my first semester ever teaching and it is online. When I created the course syllabus I used concepts from our class. I keep the philosophy of everyone is an expert close to my heart.”
“I have so much warmth and admiration for everyone in our class. We created so many inroads for each other to enter into our community of learning safely, bravely, and creatively. Care, empathy, and access were at the heart of even our most heady intellectual work.”