Spinning (Weller, Chapters 9-11)

This week’s reading sent me spinning in two different directions…


I have in my possession a twelve-minute video of myself teaching the Suchman Inquiry model in class today.  I’ll admit to a little shyness when I watch it back, although I almost uploaded it to this blog…but the file was too big.  So I just put it on Canvas for my students, but then I started to think about whether it would work to have an online place for students or me to upload videos of these various instructional models that I am pretty sure are the answer to helping students think critically (mainly the high schoolers they teach, but also the college students too.)


This particular model involves students forming hypotheses about a problem and attempting to solve it as the teacher responds with yes or no questions–and as a teacher it is so tempting to give them the answer, but the whole point is not to do that, to have them discover it on their own.  

Blogs are Dangerous or We Are the New Media

One of the kinds of research I am into is narrative inquiry, which is basically analyzing the stories that participants tell to determine how they construct meaning in their lives.  I am starting to see nearly everything as a series of stories that we tell.  This can seem cynical at times; as one faculty member from another institution was talking about how her workplace was like a dream world where everyone got along and worked toward common goals, I kind of dismissed it in my mind as the story she had chosen to tell.  This wasn’t out of nowhere, she had described another faculty member who “chose not to get involved” and I wondered about that other person whom I will never know.  Did she really choose that?  How did she feel?  She would tell a different story, I’m sure.

Calling a Few Good Changemakers (Weller, Chapters 6-8)

Weller notes that new technologies are useful to encourage interdisciplinary work and thinking; I couldn’t agree more.  And I think one of my favorite moments is when he uses the term “bespoke” to describe some university projects around technology….what a great word.


I have been thinking a lot lately about dispositions, because at a recent conference I attended it seemed that everyone was scrambling to create a dispositions document–and I have some qualms about that.  Has anyone seen that Arrested Development scene where Gob is trying to throw an envelope into the ocean, and it just keeps blowing back at him?

Ta daaa!!! That’s my first embedded image.  I know, I know, baby steps, people.


I feel like that when I question an idea that has spread like wildfire through a group of people.  

Response to The Digital Scholar, Chapters 4-5

Thanks, Weller, for making me feel lucky to work in a place where people are not telling me that I have to publish in a certain kind of journal and not spend my time blogging or tweeting or whatever.  From where I’m sitting, it looks as if those people are under the tidal wave of a trend that’s only getting bigger right now.  Not only do I not hear those things, but we even have this initiative to help us learn more about how to do it!  Sure, it can’t hurt when it comes to getting the institution’s name out there, but props to the powers that be for giving us the room to explore.  It is certainly risky, after all–I am reminded of the “views of the speaker don’t necessarily correspond to the views of the institution” kind of statement.  They are constructing an online identity that each of us are now a node of–the collection of our online identities (and I will call them that now, because they are more than personae in the way we are doing them), together with all the other data and comments and websites and such combine to create the UMW identity.  So I feel glad to be trusted to be a part of that.

The Online Realm–Does it Complicate Persona?

I am really new to blogging, but I love writing and have for a long time now.  It’s not exactly the same, of course, because blogging is more public, but something I’ve been thinking about recently is that having an online presence makes it more difficult to control one’s teaching persona.


There is an element of presenting the self in everyday life (props to my man Erving Goffman) that involves reading what the audience wants and then providing that for them.  People clearly have certain expectations of what teachers will be and do in the classroom (not all of them are positive), and there are teachers who manage to present the “right” self for their setting and “audience”–the class–even though they are obviously more multi-faceted than that.  They have qualities they choose not to share.  An example is something like swearing or sarcasm; generally teachers of young students choose not to show these sides of themselves (of course there are exceptions).  The same is true of college teaching–that is everyday life, after all–but the expectations are different and there is generally far more freedom, at least in most college settings.  Maybe you aren’t a teacher, but it’s true for you too; you in some way respond to what others expect you to do, wear, dress, speak,  behave.  This doesn’t mean you do what those audiences want or need, but you generally have a sense of those expectations and you respond to them in some way.

Response to Weller reading for Domain of One’s Own Initiative at UMW

I’m responding to the first three chapters of The Digital Scholar: How Technology is Changing Public Appearance, by Martin Weller.  This is for the cool new initiative at UMW I’m getting the chance to participate in right now: A Domain of One’s Own.


I am both fascinated and, frankly, terrified about some of what Weller lays out in these chapters.   One might say it’s…(sunglasses) Or-Weller-ian.  I am hiLARious.


Anyway, where to begin?  Well, foremost in my mind in his discussion of online learning and the role of the university.  While he isn’t sounding our death knell quite yet, he is obviously enamored with the magic of the internet when it comes to online learning.  Hey, sometimes I am too (see last blog post–soon I will know how to link to that here), but as someone who studies and teaches about curricular design and effective teaching practices, I think a MAJOR missing piece in this picture of sharing material in new ways is feedback.  More specifically, when I assign a paper in a class with a reasonable number of students (let’s say 14), I can give feedback on the students’ understandings and knowledge.  When I open up discussion board questions, things can spiral out of hand right quick, and I may not see everything that every student writes.  That’s not to say that we never converse online, we do, but I am envisioning this with many more students and can see the downsides for sure.


I am reminded the super-early days of online learning, which I got to see because I went to Virginia Tech for my undergrad degrees.  There was no Canvas or Facebook or Twitter in the mid-90’s, of course, but back then we had listservs for some classes.  We all had email and used it.  And I will never forget the overly personal email that a student sent to a class listserv of about 50 people ABOUT ANOTHER STUDENT.  The details are juicy, but anyhoo…I digress…

The Super Bowl, online persona, and…you?

Probably just like millions of other people last night, I watched the Super Bowl with my laptop going at the same time–I looked at online discussions for my courses, I sent emails to my student teachers, and I read lessons and wrote some too, all while also watching the Super Bowl.  I like football, but more than that I like to stay up on current events, and I am definitely glad I didn’t miss it, because it was eye opening for many reasons…


I have just begun exploring the wide world of Twitter, and have been following the Getty Museum in LA because I a) have been there twice and love it, and b) am interested in Museum Studies and children’s museums as they relate to my experience in Curriculum and Instruction.  Last night, I learned more about how hashtags work (beyond my sister-in-law’s sister giving me the pop culture breakdown, including the phrase and accompanying gesture “air hashtag”) when I noticed that the Getty was tweeting last night with #MuseumSuperBowl.  They were posting images of “super bowls” in their collections, and cracking hilarious jokes about art pieces that related in some way to the events of the game (Here’s a recent one: Victory to @Ravens #MuseumSuperBowl! Raven from English manuscript about 1250-60 pic.twitter.com/YVnS52c7).  The Air and Space Museum, where I had actually been earlier in the day, responded instantly to the power outage on #MuseumSuperBowl and posted about how being in the dark reminded them of those on the Apollo 12 launch must have felt during THEIR power outage.  Museums were talking to each other and to everyone!  And it was creating a great juxtaposition of priorities, showing that people can be into watching the game and talking about the commercials, and ALSO be into art and cheer artists on in much the same way that people cheer on football players.


What does this have to do with persona, you say?  Well, on my LONG drive in to school today I was thinking about the changing landscape for professional entities such as corporations and  people (and no, corporations are not people).  And places like the Getty are taking these new technologies and turning them into yet another way to connect with people.  I heard (but didn’t see) that Oreo put up something about how you can “dunk in the dark” when the power was out.  Qualities I value in people, such as innovation, intelligence, creativity, and wittiness, can now be evident in corporations or organizations like the Getty.  Somewhere, someone who works for and represents the Getty was probably at home or maybe at a party if they have a more interesting life than I do (and I’m pretty sure they do) doing just what I was doing–surfing the web and watching the game, and thinking about their collections, which made me think about their collections and see them in new ways.  Museums can be written off as stuffy or boring, but this was completely the opposite.  Compare that to the old slap-up-a-website mode of digital communication from just a few years ago.


I’ve seen what Twitter can do, and I’m pretty sure I like it.  Next time I will share the flip side of this, which is that this kind of digital scholarship seems as if it can easily take over one’s life.

Introducing the Persona blog

I have several friends who blog about their lives, and I find it an interesting glimpse into personal trials and tribulations (often around parenting) that we often never get to hear people talk about.  This blog is a bit different: it is a space where I will discuss my primary research interest: the teaching persona.


What is a teaching persona, you may ask?  Put simply, persona means “mask.”  It is our public identity; experienced teachers have all kinds of experience with this.  I believe it was Hargreaves who said that teaching involves emotional labor such as “smiling when one is not happy.”  Conversely, some new teachers (even today) hear “no smiling ’til Christmas.”  This is just the emotional side–there are a host of aspects of one’s self that teachers have to determine whether to share, hide, or amplify for their students, and this might change from class to class and year to year.


These ideas, about which self one will present, apply to any teacher.  My work currently focuses on preservice teachers, so this blog with address them and their challenges in this area above all.  But I am also interested in college professors, high school and elementary teachers, and the students themselves–the most interesting thing about preservice teachers, though, is that they are both teachers (generally high school or elementary) and students (college).  Research shows that this is a challenging time, and that some student teachers even start to dislike the person/teacher they become in front of the class or feel alienated from their friends and families.


I’d love to hear from preservice teachers or anyone else who might be interested–how have you found your teaching persona?