Category Archives: Technological Theorizing

Learning in Publicizing.

Writing and blogging about my teaching (practically and especially theoretically) is very comfortable for me. I am passionate about writing, and I am distanced enough from my viewer/reader/listener that I find it naturally easy to share my professional thinking. I appreciate feedback, but my main purpose for writing has not been to seek this out, and I have processed feedback more as a reflection of my writing and ideas as opposed to of my practice.

Over the past few months, however, I have been forced into the discomfort of being public as a teacher—of exposing my actual teaching practices in action to evaluation and critique. This process has transitioned my thinking in a few ways. For one, I feel much more comfortable now with teaching in front of others (whereas before I would have rather shut the door so no one else can see me struggle through the act/art of teaching my students). I now know that I am able to tune out my observers and still be present with my students (which is very important to me), and the feedback I have received from them has been incredibly valuable, informing my further/future practice in critical ways. That said, this recent experience with publicizing my practice has also made me view my writing/blogging in a different light. Now that I have received valuable feedback from my applied practice, I find myself wanting to take the feedback from my written reflections/ponderings and apply it beyond my writing to my actual teaching practice.

In terms of my digital professional community, I have not made much progress in developing and initiating cycles of feedback and ongoing discussion. However, in my social professional world, I have seen tremendous growth in my openness (and eagerness) to accept and seek out critical feedback. Although this has not transferred deeply into my digital professional networks (for many reasons, time being a primary force), it has transformed my perspective and mindset regarding the value of these networks. I envision myself seeking out participation in professional conversations among digital communities as my practice progresses, and especially as I move into my first year of (certified) teaching.

Learning in blogging.

In cyber spaces,
magical places reside:
Communication(s).

Social media are amazing tools for (professional) networking. Blogs provide an incredibly innovative space for educators to reflect on their practice, share their stories with each others, and exchange their ideas together. In a profession where constructive feedback and collaboration is far too rare and limited, these sites of inter-active (inter-national) communication offer the potential for informal and critical professional (and personal) development. Free of charge!

While I recognize and value the potential for blogging as a networking practice, I have found the greatest satisfaction in utilizing this space as a sort of publicized journal. I have shifted over the past month from a more theoretical/philosophical discourse (although I do still retreat back to this realm quite regularly) towards a methodology of storytelling. Through stories of directly witnessing teachers’ immediate responses in the face of controversy and discomfort to stories of specific students’ struggles and successes, I am starting to build a digital record of the toolkit I am currently/continually collecting/gathering as a student teacher and learner. Through reading these stories again, I re-visit the lessons these experiences have offered me, and consistently re-discover (new) meanings in ways that theorizing and philosophizing about them cannot capture. I am not sure if this is the same for other readers of my blog, yet I do assume/presume it is more interesting to read :]

Along with shifting towards storytelling, I have made a conscious effort to respond to every comment, even if to just acknowledge that I have read their message. The fact that someone else was willing to take the time to read my writing/work and respond to my words validates to me that I am using my energy to process/think about something worth while. In return, I want to honor the energy put into furthering the conversation (which would otherwise be with my self) by expressing my genuine response to their words. Many times, people’s thoughts compel me to want to push/pull the dialogue deeper and/or in different directions as well. Other times I simply want to smile, and I tell them this. As I continue to experiment with blogging, I would like to explore more of the in-between spaces of communication and dialogue among bloggers, as opposed to restricting myself to the mindset of writing a journal to/for myself. Time to practice some digital empathy!

Blogs connect people
across the globe; what can they
do in our classrooms?

Teaching is Language Development.

Over the past few years, I have focused much of my volunteering and work in public schools on ELL students and programs. What does it mean to be (labeled) an English Language Learner? What is (or can be) done to support these students in English-only learning environments? What are the benefits of alternative models of education, such as dual language programs?

As a part of my teacher certification program, I am now forced to learn a new language: the language of digital and social medias. Although this may seem a bit abstract, the ability to utilize and navigate these cyberspaces and digital technologies is much like the ability to speak a different language. I know what I want to say and show, and now I have to translate this all into a format and framework I am not yet fluent in. I have had enough exposure to these technologies that the new softwares and cybertools feel accessible to me, yet I am still struggling to fully learn, comprehend, and utilize them, and easily become overwhelmed. I am not even close to the level of fluency required to teach these languages to someone else.

When I observe my classroom and watch my peers working with these digital technologies, I am quickly aware of the diverse levels of fluency we each have with these languages. For students with smart phones, iPads, and social media accounts, many of these new concepts and cybertools seem to be a bit more intuitive and accessible. Much like with language development, more exposure to these technologies seems to correlate with a higher level of fluency using them and learning new forms of them. However, for students whose exposure to these technologies has been more limited and restricted, the process of learning how to use them seems to be more challenging and difficult. Much like the ELL students I have worked with, these students seem to be at a disadvantage due to their lower level of fluency.

How can/should we teach DLLs (Digital Language Learners) in a way that is equitable and effective, especially within classrooms of fluent digital technology users? What would a “dual language” approach to digital technology instruction look like and feel like? What languages do DLL students know that could be taught in tandem to the digitally fluent?