Teaching Reflection Final Assignment

Marta A. Rivas

Education X580

Week 8 May 19, 2019

Teaching Reflection, Areas of Improvement & Video Check List

Teaching Reflection Assignment

The completion of my first Teaching Event was perhaps one of the most fulfilling and rewarding experiences that I have had in this program.  I feel that it was both a challenge and an opportunity to show what I know and identify areas for self-development. 

The beauty of the Education environment is that we get to practice in a safe environment new skill that we can later transfer into the real world.  The teaching Event and this Program did that for me, allowed me to try out new skills, strategies, and stage a teaching experience and empower me with confidence that I have what it takes to really do it in the real world.  I felt like a happy kid with new toys.  I could not believe it I was teaching a Lesson at my library.  Our HSU library is one of my favorite places and I was playing with all the Education toys, the cameras, the projectors, the computer lab. I felt like a legitimate teacher and I could see how important going through the process was to become a real Professor.  I was going through all the circuitous processes on this campus to put a class together and the daily lessons of planning ahead.  It was fantastic for me to finally put everything that I have been doing for the last 4 years into a mini practice.  Although as a trained Salesperson, it is easy for me to go into any situation unprepared and just wing it, for lesson delivery and good Teaching I can’t do that.  It requires preparation/planning and the participation of students in the equation.  More importantly, a lesson is not a transaction it is a process and collaboration of thoughts, ideas and practices coming together.  The process is much deeper and is the imparting of knowledge and skills versus selling convincing someone. 

The articles and everything we have read about Lesson Planning and my Teaching Event is that it is this whole process.  It is not one thing that you do, it is multiple elements coming together to provide the space for learning to occur at a specific time and place for an audience our students.  I learned that I care deeply about providing the best possible process, environment for my students.  I don’t want to risk it to chance by not planning.  I have made it a clear commitment to myself and to my students to be as prepared as possible because it will impact my life, their life and future. 

In fact, that is why I decided to take time and invest my money to participate in this preparation program. I invested myself because I care, and I want to offer the best lesson and be the best professor/teacher I can be.  In this program I have been both excited, calm, confident and have trusted our teachers in what they believe I need to learn about teaching, the planning process as well as practical tools/resources.  I feel this is like an apprenticeship, to help me apply what I learned in my life, graduate program, which was awesome and amazing for the subject matter breakthroughs I had. But my goal now is to learn how to teach. 

The Teaching Event was so exciting, and personally challenging as well as rewarding because it required me to generate it on my feet.  It required all my physical, mental, emotional, and spirit to be up there lecturing.  I felt the pressure as well as the excitement as students got engaged and were asking questions.  I liked focusing on one lesson because it allowed me to just do one thing versus trying to impart my students with everything that I learned in Business School.  It was good for me to learn to come up with a small condensed lesson, prepare a few lesson activities, and create tone and environment and finally when the students arrived the magic started.  That was so exciting to me because it felt so scary to think that if students don’t show there is no class.  Even after students got there, I did not think I could teach them something they did not know; I was nervous my friends are smart, they work etc., and they use business tools.  So, I was frustrated at times because I wish I would have started sooner and had more sophisticated excel tricks to show them, but I did not; just basics.  I had been planning this thing for ever, it was like waiting at the delivery table pushing and not knowing how that baby would come out of my belly into the world.  But with the creative forces of the universe and my own effort I did my part and the rest followed.  I took a leap of faith and before I knew it, I was rolling, they were asking questions and when they all did their introductions and shared their level of experience in the room, I knew I had something special to share. I started connecting with the students, and the synergistic juices on both sides started flowing.  By 5:30 pm May 9th, a day after my first burn’s birthday I gave my first lecture and taught my first lesson. It felt like a new baby has been born and it is my new career in teaching.  It felt like this huge burst of energy came over me since the morning of the event until I came home, and I was so full of energy that night. In fact I sat replaying everything in my head, for about 20 minutes I could not go to sleep from the excitement. I love teaching, it is like nothing I have ever experienced but all the different bits and pieces feel familiar.  I have been preparing all my life for the opportunity to teach what I have learned to this point.  I did the best I could with what I have, and I am certain I will keep improving and learning from my mistakes.  The classroom is the best incubator for growth and self-improvement.

What is my personal teaching style;

I am not totally sure on what my teaching style is, but I am bold, welcoming, friendly, enthusiastic, welcoming and professional.  I try to be personable, community minded, I like to build a sense of connectedness by being open and inviting.  I use my words and nonverbal communication to convey my positive thoughts and feelings.  I get excited when I talk about the things, I am grateful for and things I believe in.  I like to acknowledge strengths in others to establish immediate trust and value. Moreover, my style is to be prepared I like to deliver what I promise.  The teaching event made me think of everything I could control to make this successful.  I had plan A, B and C.  I had my outfit all planned, my handouts, PowerPoint presentation, relevant readings to the topic, snacks and drinks, and parking.  I had my check list and kept double checking that I did not forget to cover a point while I was up there.  I tried to open with a very warm and comfortable but professional introduction.

My strengths and areas for improvement considering my learning throughout this program

It is tough to see my teaching strengths because I feel like a fledgling teacher, watching my video was confronting.  But I think my strength is my ability to communicate, connect with the students and stay engaged while teaching.  It feels natural to talk about something that I believe in and care about, so I think that is compelling to others to want to learn about it themselves.  The students in class seem to think Finance & Communication are two important skills or enduring knowledge that we should all have to be wise investors or employees in any institution.  I was told by my friends off camera that they really had never heard about a lot of the things I was teaching them about.  That made me feel good because it showed that even if it was just a practice Lesson for me, they valued it and it was not a waste of time.  They wanted to come out and support me, but they also all said they now want to learn more about excel, finance, communication and using it in their work and personal life.  That was the goal of my lesson, so it was great to hear that because my strength is that I really care about learning and teaching others whatever information has been valuable to me; knowing that they now see value in the information that I shared makes it even more fulfilling.

Future Self Development in your teaching career. 

After completing my first Teaching Event Lesson I am motivated to put together more lessons from the class I created in this program and possibly other topics.  I am also preparing my application, CV, Teaching Portfolio and will be apply to teaching positions for Community Colleges and Universities both for Online teaching and in class teaching at EHS/HSU.  I am also going to be making a list of topics and business workshops that might be of interest to SBDC, local businesses and possibly get more teaching opportunities that way.  I have also discussed with Sydney possibly coming up with a joint class on creating Meditation and Effective Communication.  The other goal that I put on hold after starting this program is creating a Credit/No Credit Course and presenting it to the College of The Redwoods Director of credit/no credit courses and pitching it to her.  I had met her at a networking event, and I reached out to her asking her how I would go about applying for teaching a class.  She suggested coming up with a class that I wanted to teach but I explained I had just graduated and knew nothing about creating courses.  She said to work on it and when I was ready to give her a call or email her a course outline.  Now I feel like I am ready, and I have the tools to explore this opportunity. Finally, I plan to just keep learning at my job at EHS. I am in the classroom every day and can offer to serve my lead teachers in more ways now.  I also want to take time to watch videos or take a class on video editing and improving my blog media, adding content to it and make more YouTube Videos.  I plan to use the HSU library as a resource because they have lots of options in the Summer and throughout the year and I feel this was a big stumbling block once I finished the event. I want to learn more about Video uploads, formats and sound etc.

Analyze the effectiveness of the teaching and learning strategies you employed

In terms of judging effectiveness and the teaching strategies I employed, I would say they were somewhat effective.  I think that the lesson could have been done in less time and if I had not been nervous about being up there using excel it would have been smoother.  But I feel that it is a learning curve, I have a hard time following steps even when I am not teaching so with practice it will be fine.  I think one of my strategies going into the event was to use small groups, but I got so into the students, getting started that I forgot to put people in groups.  But even if I did not set people up in groups, we ended up working collaboratively as one cohesive group and I thought that was good.  The other strategy was to use a few anticipatory questions and gauge the level of knowledge about the subject and that worked well. I was able to feel at ease that what I was going to talk about was something that was at their level and hopefully be interesting to them.  The other strategy that I think I used well was asking students how they were doing and waiting for everyone to stay on the same page.  Overall, the lesson objectives were met, and everyone reported that they generally liked what they had learned.

Determine aspects that you wish to improve for the future

The parking and the start time were a big issue. I wish that I would have had a way to get everyone to be there on time and for me to start on time. I feel my introduction suffered as a result and I will do better next time.  I also wish I had practiced the presentation more.  I think that I was a bit rusty, I will be practicing my excel by doing a video and doing the download a few times over and over, so I go faster. I also think that I could have made a list of questions to ask the students and felt I only asked a few questions. I must do a better job of that.  The other areas that one of my students pointed out was repeating the lesson objectives and reminding them of the importance of doing your own reports.  She brought up a good point in her feedback and it was that I never explained why when Yahoo Finance gives you reports would you waste time doing your own.  She said you needed to explicitly state your main points by writing them on a board or during lesson.  But overall, I feel that this was a good experience and with time and practice effectiveness will come. Thanks so much.

Marta Rivas Video Analysis Checklist

In Tools for Teaching (2000, p. 474-477), Davis offers a useful self-observation checklist or series of questions that will help you assess and reflect upon your teaching video.  Use this sheet, adapted from her checklist, to take notes while viewing your video and to later write your formal self-analysis.  Please note that not all these questions will be applicable to your teaching event.

Opening, Organization, and Closing

Do you:

State the purpose of the class session and its relationship to the previous class?  Yes, But I could have put it around the room or put it on the presentation for repetition.
Present a brief overview or outline of the content at the beginning of the session or state the problem to be solved or discussed? yes, need to make it clearer why it’s better to download the info and od yourself when you have yahoo finance.
Emphasize or restate the most important ideas?   Using excel and resources to make decisions and communication internally externally
Make smooth transition
from one topic to another?
My transitions need work.  
Restate, at the end of class, what students are expected to have gained from the session? I did not state what students should have gotten from class.
Summarize the main points or ask students to do so? I summarized my objective, but I could have done a summary of the main points of tonight’s lesson. I think I was just nervous because some people had been there since 4 and others arrive 15 minutes late, so it was odd.  Plus, I felt like they were doing me a favor for coming and I felt I had to wrap it up.  
Seem at ease with the material? I was not at ease with the material.  I am new to financial spreadsheets and I get nervous just like any new user.  I feel that I tried to use that to build rapport but a few times I kind of froze and had to ask my friend Tim who is a tech to help me remember a fast trick on excel.  

Clarity of Explanation and Student Understanding

Do you:

Define new terms, concepts and principles? I think I did a poor job of defining the terms, I used a few that I think needed me to post a definition versus my own i.e. Triple Bottom Line, Sustainability,
Give examples, illustrations and applications to clarify abstract concepts? I tried to give examples but again I did the best I could, I need to practice and review the material more.  I felt that I spent so much on logistics that I did not review material as well or as much as I should have.
Explicitly relate new ideas to familiar ones? I tried to use our definition experience with doing our personal finance as an analogy to business finance but again another area of improvement.  
Know when the class is understanding or not understanding you? I think I was in touch of that and paused a few times to wait for people.  I think that is one of my good qualities I pay attention to people.
Slow down when discussing complex or difficult ideas? I think my pace was a little slow, but it worked for this lesson.
Write legibly and clearly? I wrote a few words; they could be written better in my opinion, but I am a perfectionist.
Offer alternate explanations when students do not understand? This was not evident; I think for the most part we were all on the same page.  
Use technology effectively? I think I used the technology in the room well, I went the do a trial run the day before so that helped. I also got tech support from tech department and library.  So yes I felt I was on top of this but it was because I struggle with this that I put in so much time ahead of time that I learned how to use camera, projectors, etc., got set up with a new training room it was great.

Questioning Skills

Do you:

Ask questions to determine what students know about the topic? I was ok asking questions, but this is work in progress
Use questions periodically to gauge whether students need information on the topic? No, I went on autopilot beyond the beginning and I think in the future time permitting I will think of questions as it says on chapter 53.
Pause sufficiently after all questions to allow students time to respond? n/a  
Ask different levels and kinds of questions to challenge and engage students? n/a will device them  
Encourage students to answer difficult questions by providing cues or rephrasing? n/a I will keep this in mind for future.  
Ask to follow up questions if a student’s answer is superficial or incomplete or irrelevant?   N/a need to think of good questions

Student Interest, Participation/Discussion and Class Climate

Do you:

Encourage students’ questions and comments? I felt that I tried to answer the questions, but the students only had a few questions.
Draw out quiet students to participate in discussion (and prevent vocal students from monopolizing the discussion)?  
Listen carefully to students without interrupting? I think I can work on this section because although I was listening, I think being on stage and for the first time I was nervous. I was just trying to keep myself even and cool up there.  
Accept other points of view?
Let students challenge what you say?
Yes, no opt to do this
Provide opportunities for students to apply what they are learning to new examples?      
Address all students by name? I knew everyone so I thought I did this fine, and just did it.
Call on males and female students in equal proportion? Call on students sitting in different areas of the room? Not sure since we only had one male.
Give praise, encouragement and criticism even handedly? I gave praise but I think I was so happy almost acting like a kindergarten teacher.  
Avoid language and examples that may exclude or derogate any groups? I did not do this but good to keep this in mind.  
Offer meaningful encouragement and support? I think that I encouraged the class to believe in themselves and keep learning how to add value to themselves. But I think I could have been less animated. I felt that I sounded like a salesperson not a teacher.  

Voice, Pace, Eye Contact and Physical Movement/Use of Space (Delivery)

Do you:

Speak in a clear, strong audible voice?  I think my voice was ok. I am long winded. I have to practice being short and concise.
Speak neither too slowly nor quickly? I think my pace was good.
Speak at a rate that allows students to take notes I think I went slow enough for them to take notes.  But I should repeat the terms that I wanted them to remember. I must work on planning my lesson with the idea of enduring knowledge in mind.  
Avoid filler phrases such as “you know” or “umm”? I did not catch any of those, but I feel that I was talking in a very candid tone.  Perhaps I should have been more academic and neutral.  
Use intonation to vary emphasis? I was just talking this will take work. I use inflection in an ok way.    
Adjust tempo as needed?  Ok, not too aware of this needs work.    
Make appropriate eye contact and talk to the class, rather than to the board or windows? I am good with eye contact and was able to pay attention to them and keep track of what I was saying.  That is hard for me.    
Avoid reading from notes?

I don’t read the notes.  I had to be aware of them, so I stayed focus instead of just speaking extemporaneously.  I think in teaching I will have to constantly check with my notes to be sure to be on task not just talking out of some random tangent. Which is fine you are teaching a subject that is not technical. What I noticed was hard for me was to talk and produce or lead people to practice with an online tool. It was important to follow the step and not get distracted.  
Move about the room to reduce the physical distance between you and the students and keep their interest?  I am comfortable in a classroom environment and I think this is my core strength I have a strong presence and I know how to come in and out of people’s space.  I think that class connection is my favorite, I love to connect with people, so it just flows naturally.
Engage students in the back? I did good with connecting to everyone, but I don’t think this class counted as a real sample as it was only 5 people.  If I had a class of 20 that would be harder.
Arrange furniture to reflect your instructional strategies?  Yes, I went above and beyond to get a computer lab so the students could interact and have an interactive lesson.

Week 8 Reflection/Insights On Blogging

I think the first thing about blogging that I can think of as I reflect on how it has been for me is that, “I am actually blogging.” I have heard the word used over the years and I have thought of maybe looking into writing because I like to journal and want to get my work published. But the reality was that I never had or set the time out to write specifically on a particular subject. When I started Graduate school it became all consuming and with family work it just did not seem like I was ever going to have the time to figure self publishing tools to accomplish this goal. But in this course we took on the challenge of setting up WordPress Login, or in my case re-activating it because I had tinkered with it but just left it there. I am glad that although we all obviously have some concerns regarding privacy, technical clitches etc at least for me I welcomed it. This is not usually my disposition with websites and technological set backs. But the exposure to the example of a successful blog gave me a vision for using this site for my future teaching and writing/research projects.

I plan to invest more time to learn how to do better editing, using better images and possibly other tricks. The other goal I have for blogging is to outline subjects that I am interested in and connect with other bloggers. I recently found a blog that is called “Two English Teachers” or something like that. I subscribed to their blog and I got a few tips from them about video taping yourself during a lesson as well as on an ongoing basis for your classes to do your own self reflection. I think that for me, despite my clear novice level with blogging, I am really interested in using it to expand my own body of work and potentially collaborate with others by reading what they are up to. I like that you can find people that are just like us who care about specific areas and they write about them. I think that can be something for my own students to do to keep them motivated and start building their writing and critical thinking skills.

Overall, for me blogging has been a positive way to organize my work and connect to other Educators. I hope to learn how to use it more effectively so I can use it with my students. I think its fun and its also very useful to share your work as well as develop higher order thinking.

Week 6 & 7 Teaching Event! Best Day ever…

During week 6 & 7 we did much of the planning, organizing, and we had our Teaching Events. I not usually the type to shy from talking or getting up in front of people. But the Teaching Event/Lecturing was super cool, challenging and a true transformation for me. I am thankful to everyone in our Cohort and Dr. Morago for putting this lesson for us. It was not perfect but it was totally different then any type of workshop, corporate training I have ever done. It also allowed me to reach out to my previous professors and go deeper into my subject matter. I loved this process!

Designing a Lesson

Week 5 Lessons of Effective Teaching and Lesson design.

Early on in the Faculty Preparation Program, I wrote about Mr. Price, my 9th-grade English Teacher who changed my life by helping me learn how to write what I spoke in class.  He also recommended me to attend a College assembly hosted by UCLA Partnership Program and our Junior High School. When I wrote about this at the beginning of the program I picked him because the two distinctions he helped me make have made the biggest difference in my life.  I still remember that he was not particularly a charismatic man or anything like that. I just liked the books we read that year and the fact that he would put us in groups and we would have group discussions. I had many of my best friends in that class as well as my now husband, the class was just English but for the time I was in that class I was captivated.  In thinking about whether Mr. Price was effective with his lessons, I had never really thought about that. But looking back with the insights from a few videos coupled with what we have been learning in this class I think he could have done more to engage all students. I liked reading and was self-confident enough to go talk to him about my grades and how I could improve.  But my friends and others were not. I think that maybe he could have sent all of us to the college bound program. I never asked why my other friends or even why my husband did not go. I just went, but I know now that I am older I have wondered why he picked me. In reviewing videos on Effective Teaching and Lessons I was really impressed by the common thread among effective teaching and teachers who stay connected to who they are.  The first video by Azul Terronez was great, his main message stems from his question which he is obsessed with “What Makes a Good Teacher Great?” He has his top answers and they are funny and true:

“Great Teachers Eat Apples-he tried it and kids gave him apples-it creates that trust

A great teacher is chill-they mean don’t get overwhelmed.

A great teacher is not in the classroom.

A great teacher loves to learn

A great teacher loves to teach

A great teacher sings

Kids want to be inspired by learning

Great teachers make themselves humble before their students.

They trust that they will be supported.”

The other video I watched on Effective Teaching talked about what I think I experienced from Mr. Price and other teachers which is they saw interest in me and they armed me with resources.  In Teaching Methods for Inspiring the Students of the Future | Joe Ruhl | TEDxLafayette discussed the importance of creating an environment where the teacher is side guide versus the sage on the stage.  I really liked his 6 c’s Choices, Caring, Collaboration, Creativity, Critical Thinking and Caring. I think for me these two videos were very good and feel that using these basic questions to listen and to care is fundamental for anyone looking to teach.


What makes a good teacher great? | Azul Terronez | TEDxSantoDomingo

Teaching Methods for Inspiring the Students of the Future | Joe Ruhl | TEDxLafayette

Week 4 Formative Assessment

This weeks readings and formal explanation of what constitutes as Formative Assessment and how important it is for creating the desired learning outcomes for both student and teacher was very helpful. I feel like I came away with a clear toolbox that I can use for any lesson going forward. The review of all the various classroom assessments was good for me, because I think when I read about these the first time I saw them just as a way to test the students knowledge. This time I saw the types of strategies as a way to find a mutual fit for both my personal style as well as for the students to provide feedback on what I can improve/modify. The other insight from this week was the idea that “assessment” for me as just a student thus far has always just put the pressure on me to show what I know as a student. However, during this week I really explored what “formative assessment” really means for both the teacher and the students growth. For example the use of “The muddiest point” gives the student a chance to point out to the teacher what was most confusing or muddled. But it also gives the professor has a chance to receive feedback/adjust or change the way they explained something if it is not working. The other nice part of this process of checking for understanding along the way is to make sure that everyone is on the same page. The use of these strategies periodically as lessons progress ensure that students and teachers do not have unrealistic expectations. More importantly, that the objectives and learning outcomes that have been outlined in the course syllabus are met. If there is too many students confused about a point it might be worth further explanation during the next class or possibly a need for reflection on the professors teaching styles versus the students learning styles i.e. they might need both visual and written directions for complex problems.

In summary, Formative Assessments and the use of specific Classroom Assessment Techniques
CAT’s, is very important for creating the desired learning outcomes as well as continually ensuring that on a daily basis lesson, course and student learning objectives are met. This section is like the navigation system in our class. It helps us have a template and if you get lost, you just go back to where you got lost. This might be too simplistic but my point is simply that in a class we are on this car or rather bus. The teacher is the bus driver, students are passengers, the lesson is the destination or objective, the CAT’s are like the different options on the navigation system to modify route in case of confusion or detours. This section reminds us to continually check in with yourself, students, and continually engage in formative feedback to make sure everyone arrives happily to final destination and enjoys the journey.

Week 3 Elements of Lesson Planning

The anticipatory aspects of lesson planning is very important for the Lesson I worked on this week. However, I am a bit of a novice at this and despite reading all the articles I feel that I am still operating in a vacuum. Although I see how useful a short 1-2 sentence introduction at this point I am not sure what it would be for prospective college students. However, I have been in many different classes at Eureka High School and if I had to plan a class for Special Education English the main purpose has to be simple and clearly stated. The one thing I have learned about many of our mild to moderate students is that they have a negative response to unexpected changes in lesson format. I planned a short lesson on “How High School Students Can Create and Manage Credit.” One of my anticipatory sentences was based on the assumption that after high school many students have expressed wanting to be on their own after they graduate from High School. The impact I wanted to have on the students was to share that establishing independence from parents starts by wanting to get their first job and using their basic tools to be responsible for their basic needs. The lesson turned out to be a little challenging because I did not fully have a lesson it was more of an informational speech based on a conversation that stem from a student who was asking why her dad was not happy that she is so adamant about saving her own money and did not want him to co-sign for her. I offered to put up a few points from my own experience as an 18 year old and what I did and how now as a student and Teacher Assistant I have to live on a very tight budget/student loans. I feel this weeks lesson planning suggestions are very good for the future.

This brings me to the final question for this post, and its the challenges I am feeling now in terms of coming up with starter activities. The main one is that I am still in the process of setting my own mindset to act like the teacher and systematically go through a checklist of class planning. The bottom line is that I have to just make up a lesson and get some students to agree to attend my class and “Just Do It.” This will happen in a few weeks and that will be the biggest challenge that I see. I am the type of person that has to do things a few times and then I can figure it out. In this section I feel this sense of “uncertainty/overwhelming feeling” because I am not really sure what I will really be teaching in real life and who my students will be and how many students I will have. I like book training and preparing but my forte is being in the moment. I hear from many teachers that they studied one subject like History for instance but initially they were offered to teach a course of study that was not their main subject. Nevertheless they taught it for the teaching experience, a job to pay bills, and now are teaching Special Education Math and History for example. This teacher is a amazing at explaining Math to students and now she teaches History and Math for Special Education very well. I think what I mean is that despite planning, even in Education their is this level of “Surprise Element, Performing, Planning, Logistics and Business Mechanics of what the legal requirements are to qualify for a job.

All these things are similar to something that I am very familiar with and its the sales cycle customer acquisition process. The first thing you have to do is do research on your company, figure out who they are, what they need, what excites them and go in there for the first time and just introduce them to your service/benefits and communicate the value you bring to their business. I feel that much the same way, once all of us get that first chance to plan a lesson and give a class the Lesson Plan will write itself in a way. Currently I feel like I am rehearsing with my sales manager to go into a visit with a client and its nice to have a plan but when you are there things slowly will build week by week.

Week 2 Friday Reflection on Community Learning 4/5/2019

What will you do in your classroom to create community and define expectations?

Start with Community Circle and invite everyone to share, play and learn!

I think building community in my class is key to achieving course learning outcomes because the whole premise of my proposed class “Sustainable Business Communications” is to create a link between the student’s individual work, talents and align them with their vision for their business plans, community and creating economic value for themselves/society.  In my experience both in Business Development, post-my participation in the Sustainability MBA, making linkages to business, community and personal connections for promoting the interests of my company/self always resulted in value/opportunity. In addition, in Education we learned this principle in this weeks reading by Deborah J. Bickford and David J. Wright, Chapter 4 Community: The Hidden Context for Learning explain the Education value and the increasing benefits of community learning for the classroom and real life.  Although historically they point out that Colleges and Universities have been very formal today our global world, complex problems, society, students demand more. Therefore, current pedagogy discourse centers on improving learning outcomes for individual and societal success.  According to Bickford and Wright, the reason why Community is imperative to learning is that it accomplishes success in the class as well as beyond. For instance, they state “learning involves individual behavioral changes, the context in which those changes occur is a social environment involving many people. All aspects of education—including the planning of space design—should acknowledge community. Just as a learning paradigm focuses on the importance of learning, we argue for a community paradigm that emphasizes the role social interactions play in facilitating learning and improving student engagement: through the community, learning can grow. Given that physical and virtual learning spaces play critical roles in enabling or deterring community, it is essential that educators reevaluate the role of virtual and physical space as a way to improve student (as well as faculty and staff) learning and engagement in community.” (D.J. Bickford and D. J. Wright, The Hidden Context for Learning and Enhancing Learning Via Community). In the rest of the article they detail the connections, hows and why’s and validate the importance for learning. But as I said before, for me it has always been important to connect my education to my business real life goals, i.e. sales or whatever I wanted. But now as an Educator I plan to adopt community learning, applying individual effort, while making collective group discoveries to integrate multiple disciplines. My goal is to create the context to facilitate learning for the new generation of students coming into business, particularly those who like leading, connecting the bigger picture and finding value for society.

What types of activities and assignments will you have to create community?

I plan to set the tone for “Community Learning and Creating Community” day one and sustain it to the end of class.  I experienced “Community Learning” in my Sustainability Principles and Management class and it was very empowering. This experience taught me invaluable communication skills and emotional development. This experience has given me insights I would not have learned in a formal setting due to power and position differences i.e. discuss team breakdowns due to egos, family and unexpected mental and physical health issues..value of community/teamwork/long term learning.  On the first day of class, I plan to start with community circle which I believe in and have learned so much from and can apply now at work/home/community. I will email all students prior to start of class and provide them instructions so they are prepared.  I will not make this a graded activity and will give students who are uncomfortable the chance to pass or to just say their names. I have learned over the years in business and other social settings that one of the biggest missed opportunities to get to know each other is the very minute we get that chance to open the door or come in the class. When we come through the door we can introduce ourselves powerfully and make that first impression.  I believe that a proper introductions can be learned, with key pieces of information we can go a long way. But it is human nature to get fearful of meeting others, nervous or for us to shut down at that moment that we come into a class, an interview, a party, etc we don’ make the best impression of who we really are. In business and in life, introductions are very important to make humans connections, gain access to resources and hence beginning establishing a sense of community. I plan to go over this with students and practice that until they have their authentic self out there to be shared and seen.

I plan to start early and keep this up throughout the semester.  On the first day of class, we will be starting off with an activity that will invite everyone to connect in a physical, visual, and auditory space and stance by standing in a Community Circle and passing a talking piece to give a brief oral impromptu Introduction of who they are.  I will have students go around and share their name, where they are from/born, how many countries they have traveled to, something unique or interesting about them, family, what they value most and who they hope to be when they graduate. I have seen this method of community building used in STEM Center for Academic Exellence, HSU Sustainability Principals Introductory Course, EHS Photography, EHS Freshman Seminar, True North Community Organizing Meetings and it is authentic as well as fun.  The idea is to elevate Human Interaction/Community Communication over just the material aspects of the class environment we have been using. I believe people in general, and students in particular are the big deal in the class. I want to honor them and am confident that if we set high targets from the start by sharing strong introductions and presenting the possibility of each students vision/goals for being in the class, it will create that connection and sustain that student/teacher bond to the end of class. I personally have kept this beyond my classes and have benefited proper introductions in business and trust with some of my 1:1 students in Special Education. I want to pay it forward to my students to learn to value themselves and others in the community.  It starts with feeling our basic “humaness” like perhaps our ancestors might have before written language and how it is in many native cultures even today. Establishing trust and a sense of community is key to student and teacher success but also coming full circle to finding a job in the community.  I am certain this initial activity and doing it consistently as a daily practice before class will help everyone stay connected and work collaboratively to finish the class in celebration and transformation of what everyone is working towards.  I also plan to give students a learning styles test and ask them to self-select into groups the second day of class after introductions. This will give everyone time to think and see who they are naturally connected and comfortable with to create groups.  I plan to also open out a community circle 10 minutes at the start of every class to share things students are GRATEFUL FOR, CURRENT EVENTS/GOOD NEWS DISCOVERIES, and Joys and concerns. I feel this will help us all to keep a positive mindset for community learning, support, and grounded in using “community Circle” ongoing to create community learning and deal with any challenges that may come up but in a standard class it might not come to the surface due to fear of being in a formal setting which does not invite open dynamic,  communication as equals. I also plan to possibly host class at a local community organization that will allow us to experience the beauty of our Humboldt/Arcata Ecosystem and Business Community. In the Spring we can possibly walk over to HSU Library, HSU Redwood Bowl sit outdoors, Redwood Forest, Humboldt Library Upper-Level Special Collections Room or possibly at a local company that would allow us to use their conference room to experience what it is like to be collaborating and working in a Community. I have listed just a few places but I will open it up to the students to share and even possibly coordinate for our class to take place in different setting just for one evening.  The idea being that as Business Communicators we have to be immersed in the community both to seek opportunities but also to learn i.e. do market research, find out from owners, employees, etc what the needs and challenges are in business. Then take those notes, ideas, information and turn them into Business Communication, Advertisements or the stories to feature on your clients or your own website.

What types of challenges might you anticipate in creating community?

I think a challenge that I anticipate is that some students might not like it because they are accustomed to a formal lecture style and might think this is too new or informal. The other challenge is that when you create an informal setting you have to be able to adjust, and gently direct people to stay on time because they get really comfortable and may talk too long limiting time for others equally.  The other challenge that I see is that when concerns get raised that are not within the scope of the teacher to change students might get frustrated. But I still commit bring the concerns to Administration, follow-up and get them an answer whether a resolution was achieved or not.  I plan to be committed to asking for their help as well as partnership; community learning is not something I am a 100% expert in, therefore, it will require for me and students to be open, humble and open-minded as well as seek outside guidance.

In closing, I am really excited about teaching, the prospect of weaving in community learning to everything that I have written in my syllabus is awesome. But quite honestly I feel like I still need to do more reworking but backwards instead of forward.  I feel that as we go forward and get to the culmination course in this program I feel like it went fast and I regret that I was so overwhelmed at first. My confidence has grown and I am still not sure of so many things but I have you all to go to for help. I have no shame or fear to reach out anymore. You all have been a great learning community for me.  The great thing now is that I feel that as we have moved to week two everything is coming together in my mind. I definitely feel that I will also have to work on my actual classroom and have been taking pictures around the campus of some of my favorites classrooms, inspirational quotes, posters that some of my favorite HSU and High School teachers have at the start of the semester.  I think that the things you keep in your class invites students to explore, share and convey community value.


  • Deborah J. Bickford and David J. Wright The Hidden Context for Learning and Enhancing Learning Via Community
  • Vandana Shiva Earth Democracy: Justice, Sustainability, and Peace