Reflection letter to M. Gavel (and class):
What teaching strategies were used in this class? Once again technology was used, as we interacted with one another on Google Docs, and could follow along at our own pace on our computers to check out and evaluate the resources you listed. This is good for students old enough to have devices. Realistically in a K-12 class, if there is a student in the class who does not have access to Internet through a laptop or phone (and there aren’t enough available computers or tablets in the room) I would not encourage this activity however, as it means some will need to be paired up, and it would be unfair to force a student to partner up if they prefer individual work and are unable to get access to a computer. An intentional teaching strategy I noticed was opting not to use teaching strategies for part of the class, but rather to turn the exploration and discussion over to students.
What new information was learned?
I thought it was great that there is a website for creating free assessment rubrics (Rubistar). I personally didn’t learn anything new about Google Docs, but I am sure it was new and exciting for a few people in the class, and can be a very useful tool for group projects or class discussions. As a teacher you can be planning lessons and include students’ input, and they can watch as their words go into your planning documents – that their opinions matter in their learning.
I also learned of some specific resources that relate to Power and Authority that can be of use in Saskatchewan classrooms. They can be accessed from our ESST group blog (see below).
(n.d.) Power and Authority. Retrieved from https://esstfall2015.wordpress.com/curriculum-strands/power-and-authority/
What types of assessment did I use?
You allowed us to reflect on our learning to both you and group members, and walked around and listened to ensure there was active conversation and meaning-making going on.
What, if any Power Structures, were disrupted during the course of this class?
We transitioned between you setting up the plans for the class (choosing the resources to look through, creating reflection questions to ask), as well as giving us tips on how to set up our blogs. We as students had opportunities to take the reins to read through resources and discuss which we like most. Then the power structure was shared as we ultimately decided together what should be included on our project rubrics.
How did Power and Authority shift in your different groupings?
The only thing I can think of is that when we were talking as a group, we could each speak and analyze our own thoughts in relation to others a lot more often and in-depth than the occasional person sharing their opinion with the entire class. It is a lot more of a constructivist, or self-empowering approach.
Considering the idea that we were supposed to sit with people we usually don’t sit with, I would imagine it changes the power dynamics because it is a blank slate – you don’t revert to the typical power roles you have intentionally/unintentionally agreed upon with your usual group, and need to explicitly decide who is doing what: Who is going to facilitate, who is going to record, who is going to research, etc.
I cannot think of anything else related to power and authority, so I will talk about my thoughts on collaborating with classmates. I find that most of the people in our class are willing to talk as well as listen to more than their close group of friends, because we are at that point where teaching is serious to us and we realize the importance of collaboration. I think some people may sit with the same peers each class if given the choice, and although I think this should be allowed at times, it is also good to get to know the minds of peers you don’t see as often. You may find you have more in common with them than you thought, or that they offer unique, new perspectives you hadn’t thought about. It is beneficial to get everyone interacting, to create an environment more welcoming, especially if we consider a class of K-12 students who will spend every day in the same room.
How did this class differ from traditional University classes?
Traditional University classes consist of lectures that are probably so content/instructor-centred that a student could easily print off whatever the teacher discussed on their slides and memorize them for tests without being present at class. There would be nothing valuable gained from sitting in on the lecture vs working from home, except for maybe insights the professors think of on the spot. Students rarely speak or help contribute to the lessons. In fact, I understand why many students in classes of other faculties skip class and just print off notes – so they can learn at their own speed, make their own kind of notes on their own time, and not waste their time in class doing the exact same thing at the teacher’s speed. Some learn better from verbal and visual communication from others, and so lectures may benefit them, but others are naturally independent and if the lecture is going to cover the exact same content as the lectures on UR Courses – why even go?
I do not disagree with lecturing. I think teachers can be great researchers and can bring a lot of great knowledge to children – children still actively create knowledge when they hear a story from a teacher, so I don’t think teacher lectures is always wrong, even if it is a more passive form of learning. However, if that is the only option for learning in the class, kids can get disengaged very quickly.
Classes like ESST are more challenging and rewarding in that there is still lots of teacher-chosen content to read and comprehend (which can be read in and out of class at your own pace still), but students must also be active in engaging with others and reflecting within the class. Our projects are the final product of combining teacher lecture with student collaboration. Sharing of thoughts is encouraged during class time, instead of dead silence as a professor talks the whole time. However, independent work on actual assignments for marks (save our first one which needs to be in pairs) is still allowed which I can appreciate.
When I teach my students, I am going to be consciously thinking about switching between teacher and student-led activity, to ensure neither one becomes overpowering.
Did power and authority shift? Who held the power? Why?
Power can always be seen from two different sides, I believe. For example you, as the teacher, ultimately have control over giving marks, which judges how fit we are to be teachers. However it could be argued that we as students have the power to achieve those high marks by performing as the assessment rubric asks us to (which we came up with in collaboration with the teacher). Actual learning in class is evenly distributed between students and teacher, and you do not expect us to see you as the be-all and end-all of knowledge, but rather to share our own experiences, and go out and learn from a variety of resources as well as listen to you. I think you want us to hold power because we will eventually be in the authoritative position of teacher (where we have ultimate discretion over assessing students’ learning, giving them marks, deciding how to carry out the curriculum, etc.) but also because you want us to see that because we are given power right now in student roles, we should also give power to our students when we teach. Why is that? Because we want our students to get more and more of the taste of freedom (and responsibility) as grow up, to become empowered leaders who are able to be productive and inventive on their own – not always at the direction of another person.