Saturday, February 4, 2012

How am I doing? 2012

It is that time again - annual review. The time of year when I am asked by my employer to demonstrate how I have met the College's expectations regarding teaching, scholarship, and service. This includes providing an up-to-date vita and the past year's faculty activity report. The Department of Mathematics also asks for a self-evaluation that focuses on teaching. As I did last year, I decided that I ought to share this evaluation in order to make my efforts visible to all.
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Technology, especially as it relates to social media, has been the focus of my teaching journey this past year. Social media provides me with the opportunity to connect with my students and colleagues in ways that were previously unimaginable to me. It has also introduced me to educational technology that has enhanced my instruction. This self-evaluation will highlight my efforts but it also includes hyperlinks if you wish more details.

At the end of last year I joined Twitter. My main reason for joining this micro-blogging site was the success I saw Dr. John Golden have with it during teacher assisting in the fall 2010 semester. It allows me to maintain contact with the teacher assistants by providing a window into their thinking and their classroom experiences. As I explored Twitter, however, I found that it had many more educational benefits.

Twitter is a platform that allows teachers from around the world to connect and share ideas. I have encouraged our students to use these educators as resources and mentors. Several teacher assistants and student teachers have sought advice from and used lessons shared by Twitter teachers. Even I have been exposed to new technologies as a result. In modeling iPad use for the Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellows, I have incorporated several applications that I learned about on Twitter. You can read how I used the iPad here.

Chats are another aspect of Twitter that I have benefited from and incorporated into my lessons. These chats allow participants to share ideas with one another around a particular topic. I have used them for class discussions on instruction, classroom management, and assessment. The benefits of these Twitter chats is that everyone is given the opportunity to speak and it is possible to archive the chat for assessment or further discussion. An example of one of these chats is here. These class chats have been so successful, I have also started hosting chats in sessions at conferences. Here is an example.

Some students remain hesitant to use Twitter to its fullest as a professional tool. This is a challenge I want to address this year. I do not want to force compliance. I want to model Twitter's benefits. As a part of the student teaching pilot program that I am helping to develop, I intend to include a survey that will ask about Twitter and ways to improve its implementation.

I also began the year by creating a blog. This has been an opportunity to make available to students the resources, examples, and concepts that are addressed in class. The posts have become a kind of anchor chart that students can review long after the lesson. I have also used it to reinforce and extend topics presented in class.

In addition, my blog has supported my scholarly and service activities. The information shared on the blog contributed to my being asked to be a keynote speaker at the Mathematical Council of the Alberta Teachers' Association annual conference. A "transcript" of my talk is provided here. The entries on the Teaching-Learning Cycle have provided a framework for a book that has generated some interest from a publisher. I am considering making the writing of this text a part of a sabbatical proposal. Finally, several teachers have commented on how the lessons I have shared have been of service to them as they teach. Providing an open source resource to inservice and preservice teachers around the world is important to me.

I continue to do teaching, scholarship, and service in the typical ways. My efforts are enumerated on my vita and faculty activity report. While these are important, I am passionate about the opportunities technology has for addressing these areas in the future. I have only just begun. There is a lot left for me to learn.

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