CPLC Season 2 & COVID-19

June 8, 2020

I very excited to continue my learning with the Cluster Pedagogy Learning Community (CPLC) this summer with Season 2 of this professional learning community. I look forward to learning from colleagues that I got to know in the last year as well as faculty that will be joining the CPLC for the first time. We will learn together more about Cluster Learning– open education, interdisciplinarity, and project based learning and how we can infuse these practices into our teaching.

This time around will be different. Of course, I come with a different perspective because I have more knowledge about Cluster Learning partly because of my experience in Season 1 and partly because of my work with my students in the last year. The other reason this work will be different relates to the COVID-19 crisis. As I wrote about recently (see Sociality & Remote Learning), moving forward all of my work for my courses are connected to the current crisis and what this means for my students and how this will influence our work together whether this will be face-to-face, remote, or a combination of both.

In February (see What am I doing? A reflection on my CPLC goals), I reviewed my goals for my work during the first round of the CPLC and shared my progress on each of these goals. This was before the pandemic. As I begin, my second year of being part of the CPLC, I see these goals differently because of the changes I described above. I would like to revisit these goals and consider how I might approach these ideas within the current context and my new understandings of Cluster Learning.

I plan to continue to engage in the CPLC by writing my blog and participating in reflective practice. These opportunities will provide me the space and time to think about my teaching in midst of the busy semester.

More than ever, I think that I will need space to reflect on my teaching. Whether in writing or through conversation, my reflections about my experience teaching during this pandemic while considering Cluster Learning will be important. My blog provides one space for this work. I also hope to find other faculty within the CPLC that would like to engage in conversations about pedagogy, especially this fall. One thing that I found challenging about remote learning this spring, related to the lack of opportunities for connection with colleagues. I missed opportunities to talk about my teaching with someone else. I will need to plan for these conversations to help me as I work through the fall semester. I often felt isolated during the remote learning part of the semester and I know that to do the best I can for my students that I need to take care of myself and consider how to get support from my colleagues.

I am revising my syllabi to make them more student friendly.

I will continue to work on focusing on the student perspective as I develop my syllabi for my fall courses. I think this time I will need to consider what I will need to add or include considering the potential changing environment of the fall. What can I include that will allow students to have flexibility in their work but also feel supported within the course?

I am going to use ungrading in two of my classes in the hopes that this will give my students the opportunity to focus on the learning of the course. I am considering ways to provide more voice and choice to my students in my classes as it connects to both open pedagogy and project-based learning.

I put these two goals together because I fell uncertain how both of these ideas will continue to develop within the current context. Ungrading, open pedagogy and project-based learning are all elements that I want to continue to develop in my teaching. My uneasiness comes when I consider the uncertainty of the fall and what this means for me and my students. One thought relates to how much should I push my students into new learning contexts when there are other unknowns. In the spring, I shifted my courses to respond to the crisis and to help support my students. The shifts that we made provided more structure to the course. I guess what I am grappling with relates to what students expect in a course and how practices such as ungrading, open pedagogy, and project-based learning push students to think of learning in different ways. I wonder how much students can make these shifts in their thinking when also dealing with the COVID-19 crisis. I think that I need to examine these practices and my courses to consider what will help students to build a learning community, understand key ideas, and have a voice and choice in their learning experiences. I would like to explore these ideas as part of my work with the CPLC.

I am going to be patient with myself as I try to grow as a professor and implement these new ideas. I am going to be patient with my students as I implement these new ideas.

These last two ideas are linked together and even more pertinent now. One of the most important take aways from the spring semester was having patience and kindness for students and myself. It is easy to get lost in the routine of the semester or the familiarity of our courses. In the spring, we faced the unfamiliar, the unknown and the unexpected. It was unlike anything we may have experienced before. This brought new perspective to teaching and opened up opportunities to experience some of the newness that our students feel when taking a course. Student and teacher navigated a new type of learning environment and with this came a need for patience. This patience will be needed again in the fall. Even if we are face-to-face, our class time will not be the same and we will need to work together to navigate through this new normal.

I know that new goals will emerge through my work this summer with the CPLC. I look forward to learning with my colleagues and considering how we might best support students with Cluster Learning in this ever changing crisis.