One of my best sources for professional development is peeking over the shoulders of my colleagues. No, I’m not a stalker. Specifically, I
- Sub for absent colleagues. I can really see how their courses connect with mine. For example, today I was with a RDG091 class. I can see what I should be doing in RDG081 to prep my students as well as see how their work leads up to CRE101. I can also see different ways of delivering the content, whether it be in class or through Canvas.
- Tutor in the Writing Center. I am able to experience a wide range of writing expectations across our campus, and I always get good ideas about assignments and rubrics used by my colleagues. I also stay in practice with having to explain things in a new and different way.
- Review online courses using the Gold Standards. Some of my best “ah-has” have come when I look at the modules or feedback strategies or resources contained in my colleagues’ awesome courses. What good ideas we have here! It really stretches me when I go outside of reading or education to see the way others view the world of Canvas.
I get so many good ideas every week that I’ve had to create Google docs and Google mail labels to capture everything.
My greatest personal growth lesson recently has been to implement just one or two things at a time. Once I’m comfortable, I go to my files and find something else to add.
My idea of surviving a hybrid class, once you’ve figured out you cannot possibly deliver all your fine course lectures and lessons and assignments in less than half the physical class time, is to develop your hybrid course FIRST as an online course. This means developing and/or capturing discussions, assignments, quizzes, videos, lectures, so forth – everything you would normally teach over the normal course session (and more) in a F2F environment.
Instead of restricting instruction in any way, I’ve found that developing the hybrid course as an online course on Canvas FIRST is “freeing.” Doing so allows me to concentrate more on how to make the hybrid class sessions, the hour-and- fifteen-minute weekly meetings, that much more interactive and engaging for students. Plus, no matter what we manage to get through in our weekly session, I can rest assured that all students have all the information and tools they need to succeed the next week.
My course content, then, is already captured and available online. So what do my hybrid class sessions look like?
- I start by putting a summary lesson plan on the board (attendance, questions, last week/this week, other keywords for my own use as well as theirs to “follow along”).
- I draw my “peace symbol” on the board (three-part agenda: “yours,” “mine” and “ours” – your questions to me, my questions to students, our questions and comments for each other).
- I make students write the titles, identifiers (ASSIGN1-2, ASSIGN3-4), and due dates of “Assignments Last Week” and “Assignments This Week” (in summary chart form) on the board (this gets students up and moving around and already engaged in a fail-safe environment – sets a good tone and precedent, and echos the theme that this class is in large part their responsibility).
- I’ll typically ask student volunteers to write examples from the past week’s assignments on the board to prompt discussion and reinforce concepts.
- I’ll give a five- to ten-minute lecture, occasionally, on this week’s module or key concept(s) – and/or on something I saw in their work that needs more reinforcement and/or needs to be headed off at the pass.
- I’ll typically ask student volunteers to write examples for upcoming assignments on the board to prompt more discussion – for instance, ideas for their narrative or comparative essays, or their thesis statements, or…or…wherever we are in the process.
- Whenever possible, I’ll let student volunteers demonstrate some of the technology points as well (Where are our grades at? How do I sign up for Connect?). They like talking from the “teacher’s” computer up front, though often we also help each other back and forth at their seats (I wander around a lot).
- I reserve the last 10-15 minutes, typically, for any individual questions or one-on-one time needed by students that don’t feel comfortable asking questions in front of the group.
This method contains very little information-dumping — but it has a lot of information application and information sharing. It is much closer to coaching and facilitating than traditional lecture-based teaching. WARNING: This is a loud, fast, often all-over-the-map, very interactive session. It can be mentally and physically exhausting. But it can also be participatory, engaging, stimulating, sometimes exhilarating, and, dare I say it, more effective?
I tell students at the first class that to me, hybrid classes are online classes with a once-a-week support/therapy session. I’d be hard pressed most weeks to say who benefitted more – me or my students.