This semester my department has been revising and reorganizing its curriculum, submitting paperwork to re-number our department’s existing courses, and create new ones. As part of this I’ve had to dig out and share old syllabi with other members of my department from classes I haven’t taught in three or four years – before I started examining my written course policies through a critical pedagogy lens. As I was reviewing these old course documents I’ve felt overwhelmed with embarrassment and the knowledge that in my ignorance I’d harmed some of my students. So much so I considered changing the language before I uploaded them for the other faculty to see. Some of the hardest sections to read were those surrounding late policies and absences. I’m going to divide them into two blog posts, though they are related to each other. For more on revising ones syllabus with a critical eye,
Late work policies:
My very oldest syllabi stated flatly that I did not accept late work. Others said I only accepted it for a week after the deadline, that I accepted it for a lower grade, or that only one assignment could be submitted late. Clearly, on some level, I was troubled by my own policies, trying to find some way to thread the impossible needle between not allowing late work and allowing work to be turned in late for “serious” reasons, while not wanting to get into judging whether someone’s reason was good enough. In those days I was helped a lot by teaching at Loyola Marymount where faculty got emails from the dean intervening when students were in crisis, asking/telling us to make accommodations for them.… Read the rest
(I don’t even know what week it is anymore — it’s that point in the semester. And yes, the pen came in a corset box — no idea why except for Pelikan saying “this is a girl pen.”)
This past summer in the midst of grief as my mother died of cancer, I started a blog focusing on my love of stationery and fountain pens. For one blog post, I wrote about a pink pen and my search for the perfect ink. That ink turned out to be one by Monteverde called “Kindness.” Once I realized my pen would be writing with kindness, I started imagining what that could mean for my commenting on student work. It’s been a long time since I graded on paper rather than digitally, but this made me wish I could.
I’m not a naturally kind person. I don’t believe anyone is. I get impatient easily, especially if I have to repeat myself. I can remember feeling that irritation rise when I taught two writing classes back-to-back, not because of anything my students were doing, but because the students in the first class would ask the same questions as the students the hour before did. I had to constantly remind myself that yes, I was saying the same thing I’d just said, but to different people. So I don’t think kindness is part of anyone’s nature. Rather, I think it’s a practice, the result of choices we make over and over again every day. I say this because in my teaching practice it’s gotten easier and easier to make the kind choices, to not feel impatient, to see my students with compassion and as struggling rather than dismiss them when they miss classes and assignments.… Read the rest
This post is inspired by fellow FLC member Glenn DeVoogd’s recent one, “The Negative Consequences of Learning “With”” where he asks about the place of lecture, discussing how tired the students in his late-night classes sometimes are. It struck home with me in response to a challenging series of classes I had last week.
Last week was a tough one in my freshman UNV 101 class. The students came and, at times, participated, especially when one of the groups put on a fun Kahoot! trivia quiz for the rest of us. But mostly discussion fell flat. Instead of conversations and discussions, there was a lot of silence. Maybe it isn’t so quiet in their house breakout rooms — in fact, I’m confident it’s not — but in the main Zoom room it was mostly quiet Monday and completely silent on Wednesday and I couldn’t handle it.
In the physical classroom, I’m used to times of silence. There are ebbs and flows of energy in any class, especially ones that last, as do my upper-division ones, for three or four hours. Sometimes it’s time for a break. Sometimes it’s the thoughtful silence of reflection. Sometimes it’s time for the subject to change. Sometimes I only have to wait for someone to find their voice. I’ve never had problems listening to my classes’ silences and having us discuss why it’s so quiet. It’s not something I’ve even thought much about until now.
It’s humbling to realize I don’t have that ability to listen to silences in digital space.… Read the rest
This week’s readings:
From: Teaching to Transgress – by bell hooks – Introduction & chapter 1
From: An Urgency of Teachers: the Work of Critical Digital Pedagogy by Sean Michael Morris and Jesse Stommel
Foreword and Introduction
“Critical Digital Pedagogy: a Definition”
“A Guide to Resisting EdTech: the Case Against TurnItIn”
I got to select our FLC readings for this week and chose the essay “A Guide to Resisting EdTech: The Case Against TurnItIn” because it’s an area of digital pedagogy where critical pedagogy has had a significant impact on how I foster classroom community in my courses.
When I first started teaching my own courses in 2012, I’d heard of TurnItIn, but didn’t think about or use it because the university where I was teaching, Loyola Marymount, didn’t offer it. It wasn’t until I came to CSUDH that I was made aware of it. Plagiarism hadn’t ever been a problem in my classes. Instead, TurnItIn was sold to me as a way around Blackboard’s poor and limited grading annotation tools. Specifically, I’d been using Garage Band to record comments and emailing students the mp3 files. TurnItIn offered recordings of up to 3 minutes as one of its features.
So I had students submitting their work by uploading it to TurnItIn for three years without really thinking about it. When I did hear negative things about the company and its lack of respect for student copyright, I justified my continued use by rationalizing that I’d disabled archiving and wasn’t using the similarity check.… Read the rest
This is my current teaching philosophy (January 29, 2021). One of the goals of the Faculty Learning Community I’m leading this semester on critical digital pedagogy is for all of us to rethink and rewrite our documents.
U.S. Latina and Chicana feminist practice inform my classroom and research pedagogy, one of decolonialism and community building. Based on Gloria Anzaldúa’s conceptualization of mestiza consciousness, this transformative pedagogy proposes ways in which my students and I can enact a practice that tries to undo dualistic thinking, bringing their knowledge and experiences together with the course materials. In examining literature, films, and popular texts through close reading, I encourage my students to question notions of objectivity and to understand that we can and should hold a multitude of positions simultaneously, using this multiple positioning to inform our reading, writing, and thinking. This critical pedagogy practice of constant re- centering privileges students who have had nontraditional opportunities and experiences, encouraging them to create and support community both outside and within the classroom. In constructing courses, my classes reflect this critical pedagogy, focusing on radical kindness and fostering connections between students, enacting my belief in bell hook’s expansion theories of the classroom as a teaching community, creating a space of hope, care, and commitment. It’s also increasingly focused on my students and I collaboratively creating digital spaces where we can express enthusiasm and take pleasure in our community’s intellectual discoveries.
In the past two years I’ve experimented with using technology to bring students together so they can listen to and learn from each other.
… Read the rest
This Spring semester, as part of my work as an online teaching fellow, I’ve been asked to lead one of our campus groups of faculty working on a specific topic — what my campus calls “Faculty Learning Communities.” I got to propose a topic, so I proposed “critical digital pedagogy,” putting at our center bell hooks’ work Teaching to Transgress and Sean Michael Morris and Jesse Stommel’s An Urgency of Teachers.
The call included:
“If students live in a culture that digitizes and educates them through a screen, they require an education that empowers them in that sphere, teaches them that language, and offers new opportunities of human connectivity.”
“Occupy the Digital: Critical Pedagogy and New Media” – Pete Rorabaugh
This Faculty Learning Community will be a collaboration of teachers discussing digital pedagogy as a liberatory practice through self-reflection and public writing. We will center critical pedagogy, using it to discuss and evaluate our online classes and tools, and working to align our teaching philosophies with digital learning. We will do this through collectively reading bell hooks’ Teaching to Transgress and Sean Michael Morris and Jesse Stommel’s collection An Urgency of Teachers, using these writings to reflect on our Spring 2021 courses through writing weekly blog posts. We will experiment with digital tools both with our public writings and between ourselves with an eye toward including some of these tools in our future classes.
The deliverable for this FLC will be our revised teaching philosophies and our networked blogged reflections.
… Read the rest