good enough, better, best

Someone left this shirt in the pile in front of the garage door behind the St. Vincent dePaul store on High Street. Apparently she or he no longer found it useful. I found it there and bought it. I’d wear that shirt every day if I could – it’s a good color, a good shape and it’s made of very good fabric. It’s my best shirt.  It’s better than the other ones I have in my closet.

When I became a teacher my father warned me: Teachers, he said, wake up every day sure that today is the day their students will find out they don’t know anything. This was a scary statement coming from my father. He taught for sixty years with passion, great personal satisfaction and plenty of acclaim from both students and peers. If he woke up every day with that fear, what was I in for?

John Steele, one of LCC’s most eloquent observers of the learning process, gave me a fresh understanding of my father’s warning. As John teaches students, and any errors in summarizing John’s insights are all mine, all sensory input we receive from our eyes, ears, nose, etc. passes from the brain stem to a place where the brain asks the question, “Am I safe?” If the answer is yes, then the information passes to a second place, where the brain asks: “Am I good enough?” If the answer is yes, then the information is passed along to the part of the brain that performs logical and rational thought – the kind of thinking that will allow me to do problems on the board during Math class, or come up with an insightful answer to a question on the spot.  It’s this second area that John dubs the “junior high” brain, and it’s definitely the part that fears public exposure, just as my father warned me it would.

Would it fix the problem, then, to think of my choices as good enough, better, best? When I build curriculum and learning materials, which one do I aim for?

It’s clear from John’s perspective the answer for this creative activity is “good enough.” If I can convince my brain to go for good enough I’ll be free to take risks and make mistakes, which, dare I even think this, are the conditions that incubate my best work. 

Problem. To escape my ethnic and cultural assumptions requires stamina and a bigger dose of mindfulness than I have on board at times. I was raised to think of “good” as something others did (best is what we do).

That’s where my best blue shirt comes in.

Thrift stores are filled with items both useless and useful. Their definition lies in the needs and preferences of the shopper. Those items wait side by side for people to sift, sort, try them on, take them home, and if they don’t work out, discard them.

Merlot and youtube are thrift stores. That’s all. What makes a piece of curriculum or teaching material the best? It’s better than the other ones that teacher or student has in the closet. When shall I stop messing with this post and go to bed? When it’s good enough.

 

 

 

good enough, better, best

Someone left this shirt in the pile in front of the garage door behind the St. Vincent dePaul store on High Street. Apparently she or he no longer found it useful. I found it there and bought it. I’d wear that shirt every day if I could – it’s a good color, a good shape and it’s made of very good fabric. It’s my best shirt.  It’s better than the other ones I have in my closet.

When I became a teacher my father warned me: Teachers, he said, wake up every day sure that today is the day their students will find out they don’t know anything. This was a scary statement coming from my father. He taught for sixty years with passion, great personal satisfaction and plenty of acclaim from both students and peers. If he woke up every day with that fear, what was I in for?

John Steele, one of LCC’s most eloquent observers of the learning process, gave me a fresh understanding of my father’s warning. As John teaches students, and any errors in summarizing John’s insights are all mine, all sensory input we receive from our eyes, ears, nose, etc. passes from the brain stem to a place where the brain asks the question, “Am I safe?” If the answer is yes, then the information passes to a second place, where the brain asks: “Am I good enough?” If the answer is yes, then the information is passed along to the part of the brain that performs logical and rational thought – the kind of thinking that will allow me to do problems on the board during Math class, or come up with an insightful answer to a question on the spot.  It’s this second area that John dubs the “junior high” brain, and it’s definitely the part that fears public exposure, just as my father warned me it would.

Would it fix the problem, then, to think of my choices as good enough, better, best? When I build curriculum and learning materials, which one do I aim for?

It’s clear from John’s perspective the answer for this creative activity is “good enough.” If I can convince my brain to go for good enough I’ll be free to take risks and make mistakes, which, dare I even think this, are the conditions that incubate my best work. 

Problem. To escape my ethnic and cultural assumptions requires stamina and a bigger dose of mindfulness than I have on board at times. I was raised to think of “good” as something others did (best is what we do).

That’s where my best blue shirt comes in.

Thrift stores are filled with items both useless and useful. Their definition lies in the needs and preferences of the shopper. Those items wait side by side for people to sift, sort, try them on, take them home, and if they don’t work out, discard them.

Merlot and youtube are thrift stores. That’s all. What makes a piece of curriculum or teaching material the best? It’s better than the other ones that teacher or student has in the closet. When shall I stop messing with this post and go to bed? When it’s good enough.

 

 

 

I’m hooked

Here’s my secret. I have about 75 teaching videos in youtube. Up until two nights ago, 74 of them were unlisted. I have been avoiding publicly posting my screen-casts and videos.

Jen tried to get my mind around sharing my work, she really did. I understand the Creative Commons and the OER movement, and I support them both intellectually. But uploading materials to Merlot? It felt like pulling teeth.

For me, making teacher materials is about tinkering – seeing whether I can help students learn better. I make them and try them out in one term and change them the next. Because I’m learning Media Arts by trial and error, by the time I finish a media project the flaws glare at me. Through making the project I gain skill and find better tools. When it’s done I look back and see what’s wrong with it.

Sharing these experiments with the public, then, was about as attractive as airing my dirty socks.

Then, as always happens, I made a fortuitous blunder. I posted my first screen-cast to the public without even knowing it.

The next term I noticed a curious notation:

471 views??!?  I had only given the link to a handful of students who needed a supplement to review in class. How did anyone view this? It’s public! Unlist this old piece of junk, pronto.

Then I found this:

and I bumped my way to another youtube screen that said people in Alaska, California and North Carolina were viewing this cast.

When this sunk in I realized that it made feel good, proud even. What had been keeping me? This worry: that these casts would be used as evidence of my teaching skill (and any lack thereof). That I would be judged, or misjudged, by others.

I decided to let it go. A few nights ago, on the way to bed, I pulled up a series of casts about finding the main idea in a reading. I cleaned up the titles and added a few tags. I made them: public.

The next morning this was in my gmailbox:

And so was this:

 

Tonight I browsed my way through pureh1′s youtube channel. pureh1 and I share an interest in the lattice method of multiplication, he (I think this is a he) is much more interested in Bruce Lee than I am, and he’s very interested in items about Burma. Burma?

pureh1 is in Thailand.

My postings have brought me a new student. He is 7,500 miles, or, more accurately, 12,000 kilometers from my “classroom” – 1/3 of the way around the world. Now I understand why he was viewing the material while I was sleeping.

I have never met this person and I don’t actually know if he is a man or a she is woman, but pureh1 has taught me that I am a poor judge of the usefulness of the materials I create. I’ve opened up my prezi’s and I’m chipping away at the youtube videos, cleaning up the titles, descriptions and adding tags.

Yes, Jen, my materials are on their way to Merlot. They will stand as evidence, not of my teaching skill, but of my willingness to learn by doing, which to be fair, is what I demand of my students.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m hooked

Here’s my secret. I have about 75 teaching videos in youtube. Up until two nights ago, 74 of them were unlisted. I have been avoiding publicly posting my screen-casts and videos.

Jen tried to get my mind around sharing my work, she really did. I understand the Creative Commons and the OER movement, and I support them both intellectually. But uploading materials to Merlot? It felt like pulling teeth.

For me, making teacher materials is about tinkering – seeing whether I can help students learn better. I make them and try them out in one term and change them the next. Because I’m learning Media Arts by trial and error, by the time I finish a media project the flaws glare at me. Through making the project I gain skill and find better tools. When it’s done I look back and see what’s wrong with it.

Sharing these experiments with the public, then, was about as attractive as airing my dirty socks.

Then, as always happens, I made a fortuitous blunder. I posted my first screen-cast to the public without even knowing it.

The next term I noticed a curious notation:

471 views??!?  I had only given the link to a handful of students who needed a supplement to review in class. How did anyone view this? It’s public! Unlist this old piece of junk, pronto.

Then I found this:

and I bumped my way to another youtube screen that said people in Alaska, California and North Carolina were viewing this cast.

When this sunk in I realized that it made feel good, proud even. What had been keeping me? This worry: that these casts would be used as evidence of my teaching skill (and any lack thereof). That I would be judged, or misjudged, by others.

I decided to let it go. A few nights ago, on the way to bed, I pulled up a series of casts about finding the main idea in a reading. I cleaned up the titles and added a few tags. I made them: public.

The next morning this was in my gmailbox:

And so was this:

 

Tonight I browsed my way through pureh1′s youtube channel. pureh1 and I share an interest in the lattice method of multiplication, he (I think this is a he) is much more interested in Bruce Lee than I am, and he’s very interested in items about Burma. Burma?

pureh1 is in Thailand.

My postings have brought me a new student. He is 7,500 miles, or, more accurately, 12,000 kilometers from my “classroom” – 1/3 of the way around the world. Now I understand why he was viewing the material while I was sleeping.

I have never met this person and I don’t actually know if he is a man or a she is woman, but pureh1 has taught me that I am a poor judge of the usefulness of the materials I create. I’ve opened up my prezi’s and I’m chipping away at the youtube videos, cleaning up the titles, descriptions and adding tags.

Yes, Jen, my materials are on their way to Merlot. They will stand as evidence, not of my teaching skill, but of my willingness to learn by doing, which to be fair, is what I demand of my students.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks Spring 2012 Cohort!

Dear Spring 2012 Cohort,

You totally rocked it. Thanks so much for all of your participation and hard work. I know I learned a lot, and I hope you did too.

Please feel free to continue blogging about your OER journey as well as commenting. Your posts will continue to syndicate here (unless you request that they stop). I hope you’ll use this virtual space to keep connected to our campus OER community.

I’m preparing for the Fall 2012 cohort, so you’ll no longer see a list on the sidebar of the blogs for Spring 2012 members, however, I’ve created a directory page for your cohort. (You can also find this by using the top tab navigation- Faculty Fellowship > spring 2012 cohort > blog directory.)

Of course, you can continue to use me (Jen) as an OER resource. Stay in touch, and thanks again!

Fall is coming. Submit for summer round incentives!

Hello fellowship folks- hope you’ve had a relaxing and/or productive summer. If you’ve continued work to convert your course to textbook free, now is the time to submit for our summer round of incentives.

If you need to refresh yourself on the fellowship requirements, see the Rubric.

If you’re ready apply for incentives, here’s the form.

Deadline: Friday, 9/21 at 5:00 pm.