How we reimagine assessment when sick and dying dogs, sleepless nights, and cleaning up dog fur are as much a factor as whether or not a student did the reading or writing may be the most pressing question we face as educators.
No one has been trained for this. With the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, millions of students and teachers (pre-K-20) have had to “pivot” to online education. Because this is hardly the carefully architectured “online learning” that has become more and more a staple of higher education—and more an abrupt 180-degree turn to remote instruction—the challenges are not only more complicated, but also more immediate and pressing.
- “My institution has a required grading policy. How do I make space for my own approach without being at odds with my colleagues?”
- “How do I know if students are actually doing the work?”
- “I miss seeing students. How do I keep in touch with them when we never see each other?”
- “Is there any way for my teaching to live and breathe online?”
- “I was never really prepared to teach face-to-face, much less online. Where can I find a community to work through all of this?”
The work of teaching is hard. Teaching online, or teaching remotely, has particular challenges. For many teachers, those challenges are technological—what tool to use, how and when to use it, the limitations and affordances of digital tools, concerns over privacy, intellectual property, and more. For others, the challenges are instructional: proctoring exams, getting assignments turned in, ensuring that students “show up,” and more. But underlying both the technological and the instructional are challenges that boil down to pedagogy, that intersection between our theories about teaching and our practice in classrooms or online spaces. Pedagogy is our approach to the work we do, and it is as closely tied to our actions in class as it is to our fundamental beliefs about education and what teaching and learning are for.
Since 2001, Jesse Stommel and I have been working to support teachers in their pedagogical work, whether digital or otherwise. Our approach is founded in the work of Paulo Freire and his writing on critical pedagogy. We believe, as bell hooks says, that education is a practice of freedom, that it is an undertaking that liberates the minds of students and teachers alike, and fosters a critical consciousness. Critical pedagogy raises very specific questions about how we teach and learn online.
Fortunately, critical pedagogy, or critical digital pedagogy, teaches resilience, creativity, and critical responsiveness. It forms a foundation for practice, a habitus, out of which we teach and into which we may retreat to find new ways to respond to challenges or crises. Critical pedagogy itself doesn’t come with a manual, no operational methods like backwards design or ADDIE or SAMR. Instead, it asks teachers and students—as theorists and practitioners—to read the world and respond/teach accordingly.
In the interests of supporting faculty, teaching staff, and students at every level, Jesse and I will be offering weekly open office hours. We welcome anyone to attend and to bring their questions and challenges to the table. We don’t promise answers, but we will work with those who show up to find creative, compassionate, generative solutions—and likely more questions. If you have a pedagogical concern, or even want to just listen, join us. If you just need some camaraderie in this very difficult time, you are welcome. Hopefully, together, we can begin to plot a path through this "pivot" and the next one.
To sign up, simply click the button below and select the date(s) you’d like to attend. When you register, you’ll receive an email with a link to join us (and anyone else who signs up) on the day/time you’ve selected. We look forward to seeing you!
Friday, August 14 at 12:00pm Eastern
Friday, August 28 at 12:00pm Eastern
Friday, September 11 at 12:00pm Eastern
Friday, September 25 at 12:00pm Eastern
Friday, October 9 at 12:00pm Eastern
Friday, October 23 at 12:00pm Eastern
Friday, November 6 at 12:00pm Eastern
Friday, November 20 at 12:00pm Eastern
Friday, December 4 at 12:00pm Eastern
More dates TBA