I just finished reading all of your letters. Thanks for taking the time to share your experiences with me. These letters helps me get a better idea of what is working and what is not working on our classroom. Here are some things that I learned from you.
First, most of you are reporting a generally positive experience in this course. Some of you are having a FABULOUS experience here and report that this class is unlike any you have ever taken given how we sit, talk, blog and connect to one another. I am so glad that you feel like you are valued here, but also sad that you have not had other classroom experiences — in K-12 or college — where you got to share your voices in this way.
One of the major issues that came up across your letters was COMFORT. Many of you used that word. The circle is seems to work for you. As one person said, I feel connected because of the circle, and because of the blog which forces me to now everyone’s voice better. A few of you commented on nametags: at first I thought it was childish but now I like being able to call everyone by name here. It also helps to know who is who when reading the blogs!
Here are some other issues that seemed consistent across your letters:
While many of you said you don’t know how anyone would get by without reading in this class (“I would be LOST in class if I didn’t read!”), others of you said that you don’t really read. “I don’t read, I just skim.” Someone else said, “Honestly, the articles are all pretty boring except one or two…” But one person reported, “A few times I haven’t read the reading all the way and I was so lost in the discussion…” One person said that they could get by with a skim but then would not feel comfortable speaking the next day… still someone else said the same thing followed by “…but I know I do not have to take notes because there are no exam, test, or quizzes.” This does make me wonder if there is not enough reading accountability built into the syllabus. While many, many of you talked about the benefits of not having a midterm or final, I do worry that without them you will not feel accountable. I know that those of you who do read feel challenge (“readings are hard!”) but also that you are learning to be a better thinker if you engage deeply in the texts.
Texts you Remember:
Beauty and the Beast
Alfie Kohn chart
Detailed syllabus is intimidating at first, but it really helps. One of you said you read it three times every week. A few more remarked that you appreciate that we actually stick to the dates and deadlines.
There was mixed feeling about the blogging we do. Some of you hate the technology of it because Blogger is confusing and difficult to manipulate. A few of you said that you don’t like the blog at all and wish you could just turn in papers. Several fo you talked about having to comment on others blogs: “Too many comments!!” They feel pointless to you. But I think that I need to find some way to teach you how to use the blogs better. You are right that the comments aren’t being used well. But I want o find a way to help you use them better so that you are learning more from each other each week. In spite of these frustrations, a few of you agreed that blogs are a great tool to use with future students someday. “Blogging really helps me feel prepared for class, boosts my confidence to speak.” Good or bad, almost 75% of you said that you hate the Sunday night deadline. I will talk more about this in class.
Only a small handful of you even mentioned the SL project, but those who did seemed to be having a positive experience connecting the VIPS tutoring to our class themes.
Overall, many of you said that this class is helping you think about what kind of teacher you want to be. And further that you like our little community. “I will be sad when this class is over” One person noted, “I feel more comfortable addressing issues that before I once was afraid to talk about…” and another said, “I am learning acceptance…”
Have us move seats around every so often
Put the syllabus up on the blog
Change up the way we make groups for variation
“Seriously, this Sunday by midnight garbage needs to be eliminated or at least justified…”
We should be able to make our own groups sometimes…
Talk about religion as a cultural category
We can talk more about all of this in class!