Mother’s Day Reflections

I had a profoundly emotional moment in class last week which brought me to tears and then suddenly a flush of embarrassment.

We had been live on VoicEd Radio with Stephen Hurley and my students in grade 10 Academic English were being interviewed. My mother in Goderich, and my husband at home had promised to listen in.

I had been moving about the room trying to encourage students to work through the hashtags for the Twitter chat, to respond to the five questions that I had timed to be released every 10 minutes, and ensuring as many students as possible could share their voices on the radio.

Of course, I was anxious and somewhat fearful, because I’d never done this before. It was a new experience and I wasn’t quite sure about the outcome. It was very public, and I felt very exposed.

But the hour passed fairly smoothly, and many students were engaged and participating. Some were excited and willing to share their thoughts on live radio. I could feel my heart swell whenever they got up to the microphone and I wanted to reach out and support them, but didn’t as they made their way through the questions from the host with thoughtfulness and honesty.

And as we signed off, a text from my mother came in. I raised my voice to share the text, and then was suddenly overcome by a wave of emotion. I paused and broke. Tears flowed and my peer tutor stepped forward to read the text message:

“I can understand why you love your job. Those young people are SO worth caring about.”

After a few gentle hugs from the students, I composed myself and the ebb of embarrassment appeared. It hung around for several hours and into the next day, until this day, Mother’s Day, I realized what it was.

It was the moment of parental recognition that said, “I understand you.” This Mother’s Day I’m reminding myself of this power to hold and validate the worth of our children.

Unlearning – Journal 1

We are one week into this unit and I couldn’t be more excited, more overwhelmed, and equally, more afraid. I’m excited by the range of topics and enthusiasm that some students are finding, I’m overwhelmed by the notifications streaming into my Twitter account, and I’m afraid that this might not be sustainable.

But, I’m equally inspired to keep moving in this direction as I’ve learned more about my students and their thinking on a range of topics than I could have in any other format. Using Twitter for research allows them to find their own voices, make connections with others in their field of interest, and most importantly learn how to dialogue in shared spaces. It allows me the opportunity to share articles and credible sources which may help their research, broaden their perspectives, or even deepen their understanding and appreciation for the complexities of life.

Going into a library is a wonderful experience for me, but students often don’t know where to begin. To navigate a library they need to take a mass of information and sort, select, and distil the information down to the narrow focus of their research topic. On the other hand, Twitter allows them to move in the opposite direction; from small bits of information across the surface of understanding and then to deepen when they find what they need.

Image result for it's complicated by danah boydThis unit has brought me back to the trajectory of my learning when teaching Media Studies. It’s reminded me of Dana Boyd’s point that “In a world where information is easily available, strong personal networks and access to helpful people often matter more than access to the information itself…
Rather than focusing on coarse generational categories, it makes more sense to focus on the skills and knowledge that are necessary to make sense of a mediated world. Both youth and adults have a lot to learn.” 
― Danah Boyd, It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens

I have a lot to learn over the next three weeks.