Reflections on the Digital Pedagogy Lab (DPL 2019): There will be time

“There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
There will be time to murder and create,
And time for all the works and days of hands
That lift and drop a question on your plate;
Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.” (T.S. Eliot, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock)

T.S. Eliot is one of my top three favorite poets. He may be on the very top on certain days (The Four Quartets is also one of my favorite poems), but it depends on the day and the context and the whims of my fancy. He is certainly the only white man; the other two poets are incredibly strong black women – Maya Angelou and Audre Lorde. This poem, however, remains one of my favorite poems of all time. How many times have I read and re-read these words hoping they would infect my brain with the sentiment of one asking themselves if they had led a life well-lived?

At one point, I so infected my brain with these words that I wrote my own poem with The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock as my template…

Screen Shot 2019-08-18 at 5.28.13 PM

The amount of energy, concentration, and focus required to write poetry – the immense presence in the midst of the present – is exactly the amount of energy, concentration, and focus that I needed for the Digital Pedagogy Lab last week. And it was completely exhausting, which was exacerbated by the fact that this was the first conference since my health problems last year, including 3 surgeries in 6 months, that I had “done” for real.

Nonetheless, here we go, recapping the highlights…

The first morning clearly started with a great deal of anticipation. I was going to meet quite a few of my favorite non-#ChemTwitter #AcademicTwitter buddies all at once in the same day. These were folks I felt like I knew from their blog and article writing and their Twitter commentary, and yet we had never met IRL (in real life). Which, unsurprisingly, is the exact opposite of what has happened with my #ChemTwitter friends – I met many of those folks IRL first.

The persistent question we seemed to ask each other upon meeting was “Haven’t we met before?” [This is a shout-out to you, Rajiv (@thatpsychprof), Bonnie (@bonstewart), Sherri (@edifiedlistener), Sean (@slamteacher), Jesse (@Jessifer) + so many more.] It was a fair question – the feeling of mutual connection was like we had all met in a previous life and were drawn to each other through a fairly impersonal medium (unless we had had the joy of meeting through @VConnecting), only to meet for the first time in real life and feel as if we had known each other for our entire lives.

It was an experience that was surreal and beautiful and overwhelming all at once. And it is one that I fully anticipate having when I meet several other folks in this category – @Bali-Maha being at the top of that list.

Sara was gracious in her presence at the lab, in our track (as co-faculty with Jesse Stommel), and in her re-tweeting.

Sean oriented us each day with announcements and, on the first day (a guest speaker was asked to do this every other day), oriented us with a provocation for the week.

I had to make sure my Twitter PLN (Personal/Professional Learning Network) knew I would be blowing up my feed with #DigPed @DigPedLab tweets…

And we did several @VConnecting sessions throughout the week; the first session was with Ruha Benjamin (@ruha9), Sherri Spelic (@edifiedlistener), Kelly Baker (@kelly_j_baker), and Sean (@slamteacher) onsite. What was striking about this session was the presence (which translates for me to deep listening, deep contemplation, and immense honoring of perspective and livid experience) of the folks in the room and those participating virtually.

Ruha then did her keynote in the evening after the Virtually Connecting session ended. It was thought provoking in every kind of meaningful way, which was a trick considering the day we’d had.

I’m sure I could write a short dissertation on each of the tweets quoted above, but I’m choosing to let Ruha‘s incredible work stand for itself. You can watch the keynote here and, if you’re interested in learning more, you should buy her book here (BEST. SWAG. EVER. @DigPedLab).

Of course, after the exhaustion of Monday set in, Tuesday was still filled with anticipation but a little less energy…

The use of therapy dogs in the midst of the Lab on both Tuesday and Thursday afternoons was both brilliant and much appreciated.

The first Tuesday highlight was joining Bonnie Stewart‘s (@bonstewart) Digital Scholarship track for an impromptu talk on my experience with the publishing world. This was a plan hatched the night before during Ruha’s talk (Bonnie‘s emergent teaching is awesome to behold) and was an immense pleasure for me as a DPL fellow to be called on for my expertise and to be able to help in a track that was not my own. Thanks, Bonnie, for that opportunity.

The second highlight came in the form of conversation (as it often does). I had the honor of having a long afternoon conversation over gummy bears with Kelly on Tuesday afternoon. It was delightful and a highlight of DPL 2019. But my friend George may have needed one too…

I realized with this tweet that I would not have enough energy to be all things to all people, no matter how much I wanted to be. I gave myself permission to be what I needed during the week, even if that meant that I did not participate as fully as I would have liked.

But George and I had the pleasure of hanging out Friday night, and just being around him was a delight to my soul.

“There will be time, there will be time”

Meeting and hanging out with Sherri all week was a major highlight; she’s absolutely one of the “I knew you in a previous life, right?” crew (the mutual admiration society was on fire). From the first time we hugged (Monday morning at like 7:45am), I knew that she would be an inspiration and a soul-nourishing presence the entire week. And, boy, was she…

Also, Sherri released her book this week, and I scored a copy (WHOO HOO!).

Also interspersed throughout the week were conversations (long and short) with one of my favorite people – Zac Shank (@sisyphus_rex, @Zachary_Shank). I’ve known Zac since my earliest days at CNM, and I’ve appreciated his willingness to grow, contemplate, and converse every since.

By the time Wednesday rolled around, I was beyond exhausted. But at my lowest energy point, I found myself hanging out with Benjamin Doxtdator (@doxtdatorb), who was an amazing friend and a great conversationalist just when I needed it most. He also attended my workshop and was beyond kind. Thank you Benjamin!

Here are my workshop tweets. You are still welcome to access the Google files and forms should you want to look at them.

The shoutout here was real. My CNM friends (pictured here circling from left to right: Carol Dewitt, Karen Riley (@StrunkRiley), Anna Gilletly (@DrAnnaCNM), Melissa Franklin, me, and Kerry Bruce (@MyITInstructor)), with whom I attended the DPL 2019, were my support system throughout the entire DPL. Without them, I would have had WAY less energy to give to my new friends, less laughter, and more trepidation overall. Y’all are truly the best and I ❤️🧡💛💚💙💜 y’all deeply. CNM MSE crew at DPL 2019

Robin DeRosa (@actualham) re-infused me with energy the last major day (Thursday). Bless you, Robin. Like Sherri (and so many folks the Digital Pedagogy Lab), her presence was both insightful and soul-nourishing. And her keynote (found here) was 🔥🔥🔥 – so provocative in the best ways.

My favorite Robin moments are always when she riffs on a personal story in the most hilarious ways. Which she does. A LOT.

At last it was time to say our good-byes…

Reflecting upon what we had learned (in summary)…

With new friends on Twitter…

There are, of course, growth edges to the DPL, as there are with every conference. La Shonda Lipscomb elaborated two major growth edges during the final panel on Friday – needing more attendees of color and who are queer. I will elaborate on these and more – the lack of digital in every session and a need for greater STEM awareness – in a future blog.

 

Despite the growth edges, there was a high level of anticipation for the Digital Pedagogy Lab next year, especially because the DPL is MOVING to Denver.

And a thankfulness that Sean asked me to be faculty at DPL 2020…

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