I have been actively planning my DPL track – “STEM-H and Critical Digital Pedagogy”– for the last two months at least. But I’ve been thinking about it since last year when Sean asked me to lead the first STEM track at the DPL. And while you might say I should be ready by now (since it starts this Sunday), I don’t feel ready.
But I’m pretty sure I never will feel totally ready.
And that lack of readiness is not a lack of preparedness. It’s because emergence cannot be planned. So, being willing and ready to move with the track participants as they wish to move is important. Being willing to fail is important. Having an attitude of non-anxious presence is important.
So the work that’s left before DPL starts is internal and reflective. Trying to get into the headspace to lead and moderate but not teach. And while 18 years of teaching under my belt helps, it’s not the ultimate salve for anything I do. There’s always a nervous energy that accompanies the advent of something new.
The sine in the title speaks to this nervous energy, which moves the wave from a pinnacle of excitement to a well of exhaustion.
Luckily, I have my track co-lead, Anna Gilletly, to help manage my nervous energy. Anna has a ton of experience with online resources too, and she has done more in the realm of the LMS rather than outside it (as I have done). Also, I had practice with emergence earlier in July by giving a workshop to Davidson University:
Synthesizing my thoughts on building community online, student agency, etc. in STEM classrooms was an important step towards this track. Plus, this slide deck has my favorite slide I’ve made in years…
Also, attending the SEP (Student Experience Project) as part of the UNM cohort was helpful. There are many high impact, (relatively) low energy changes that can be made to increase equity in the classroom:
The ice-breakers moment is a bit controversial, and there have been many great threads on it, including Sherri’s from this morning…
As a facilitator, my responsibility is to ensure that all participants feel welcomed and respected. Regardless of why we are coming together, my attention must be focused first on participant presence – ensuring that conditions support folks showing up as best possible.
— Sherri Spelic (@edifiedlistener) July 24, 2020
And Kate’s in response…
But the key for me with icebreakers (which I mostly hate as I’m really introvert and they suck the energy right out of me) is what I’m trying to facilitate. It’s to keep constantly in view that who we are in the room, in the moment, has a rich history and context.
— Kate Bowles (@KateMfD) July 24, 2020
Understanding and living in the deep thoughtfulness of these two perspectives is important – not all of the things that we think will be equitable actually are if we don’t provide space and place to opt out or to opt in differently than we envisioned. And this willingness to hold or expand the space of learning and discussion is so, so fundamental to our work as critical pedagogues.
So, I suppose I am working towards being as present as I can, holding the space for learning, discussion, reflection, and just being for this DPL. Let’s hope that I can continue this presence in the upcoming week.