As my anniversary of absence from the physical classroom has arrived, and as chatter about returning to that space in fall 2021 increases, it’s a perfect moment to reflect on what I have learned, and even treasured, about this year. Like many others I had never taught remotely despite a three-decade-long teaching career in higher education. So the transition was abrupt, terrifying, and transformative. As someone who had spent a lot of time thinking about pedagogy even before this moment, and having already transformed my own classroom structures from conventional teacher-centered-learning to student-centered, I may have been in a somewhat better position than many others to confront the new situation.
This also coincides with the publication of my edited book, Ungrading, which led to my giving a set of talks and interactions and podcasts and workshops on this subject.
In this moment I am assembling a quick off-the-top-of-my-head list of positive things about this year. Most of this year I’ve opted for “microblogging” on Twitter instead of writing blog posts, but I think this requires a little bit longer post. I am mostly writing about higher education, but much of this also applies to K-12 schooling.
I’ve learned and learned and learned, exhausted even when it goes really well. I’ve spent hours preparing for things that take just a moment to enact. I’ve created new plans on the fly. I’ve probably done a third less in each class than I used to. I’ve second- and third-guessed myself.
But as I contemplate the end of this strange period, I realize that there are many good things, and I need to appreciate, convey gratitude for, them.
I don’t know if I will ever get to Part 2 of this list, but I am leaving open the possibility. The curriculum of blogging, like in my classes, is open.
Untraining Helplessness: Questions that burn in students’ souls, communication tools, and working to undo the training for helplessness that we have fostered
Living and Learning with Risk: Against Rubrics and Grades. How "Ungrading" Allowed My Students to Try Some New Things
I gave my students freedom to write (present) what they learned however they wanted. They were terrified; how could they get an A without a rubric??--and then they reveled in it. We took risks together, and learned together.