Writing the Evaluation Report – Week Four – 505

It is a scary proposition to explore an evaluation report and look for deficiencies. I am learning the systematic nature of evaluation and I am confident this skill will help me later. Meanwhile, I am revising my own project as I get new information daily. The feedback from classmates is helpful, just not plentiful. I have been given advice to explore the leadership aspects of my NCOIC instructor for the Physical Training program utilized by Surgical Operations Flight at Mountain Home AFB. The puzzle pieces are beginning to come together. Evaluation is like being marooned on a desert island with only an elephant to eat. You won’t starve if you eat just one bite at a time.

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Online Communities & Community Building Strategies – 521

I joined two online communities this week. After reading about creating an online community, I did not want to wait until I graduated to affect a change. As Key Spouse, I am trying to reach other spouses, particularly younger ones, to engage in our organization. As a result, I created my first page on Facebook outside my own personal Facebook page. Due to the nature of a military base and the possibilities of security breaches, the page has a small viewing audience. People can see it but they must ask to join or be asked. If the constraint from the Squadron Commander was not there, I think we could network more globally as I do on other military spouse networks. We are up to five members and still growing, albeit slowly. With over seventy service members, I hope it continues to grow. It should serve as another means of communicating and hopefully build a feeling of community online.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/149288171948417/

I also joined EducatorsConnect. I selected it because it had a social feel and yet offered the opportunity to read and react to other educators in varied fields. I have identified myself as a 9-12 teacher and have established contacts with educators in the 6-8 realm as well as college professors teaching English and Composition. It is interesting to communicate with current teachers both above and below the grades I teach. I have read many blogs from others on this site and find many issues familiar and some new. I like the communication (questions and answers) and even like reading the conversations of others that are visible through posts. It has a feel of Facebook; but the subject matter is relevant to me as opposed to rants about Starbucks or the loud neighbor next door.

http://www.educatorsconnect.com/members/home

The building of community is about listening as much as talking. Offering forums supports students so they feel comfortable learning with others. Challenges are easier to take when you feel like you are not alone. I remember a student I had in Advanced Composition in 1988. Faculty warned me about him. He walked in the room with a bandana, a leather jacket with spikes on it, black jump boots, and jeans with chains all over. I did not react. I called on him expecting him to be prepared. We had a great relationship. I found him to be brilliant in all facets of the class. He did not speak on each and every topic. Yet, when it did, it was always worth the wait. At the end of the year, a stellar one for him, he stopped me and said, “You are the only one to see past what I wore. I always thought from day 1 that you saw me.” Dr. Rice, you practice what you preach in your book. I am connected to this class. I feel that if I apply what I am learning, I can still be THAT teacher online to a new kid in a different outfit, helping establish a place where he can be comfortable in his own skin.

Interview Tool Reflection – 521

Let me begin by stating I am not teaching this term. I have not been employed in a school since August 2008. That stated we worked on active listening and Interview Tools this week. (Please see attached documents.) Both topics attract my attention as a teacher, administrator and soon-to-be Technology Integration Specialist.
I have called the parents, or at-home adults, of my students every year I have taught, save the first one. I do not have an issue with getting my parents/adults to open up. I call with something positive I have noticed and share that with the parents as my opener. It is specific to their child and not a finger-wag. That helps in so many ways, as students come in the next day beaming with pride. I would imagine the same would hold true in distance-learning as I love to hear good feedback for work done.
I reacquainted myself with lessons regarding active listening. The Building an Avatar lesson (see below) was a good reminder of skills needed to communicate.  I feel better equipped to promote good vibes via documents to help my personality come through and extract theirs reducing transactional distance. I learned from my peers some interesting questions I might use with younger students and their families. Some of peers constructed parts of their interview document with structure I would emulate. I particularly enjoyed one peer who incorporated space for interviewer notes on the form. I thought about but did not do it, violating my own mantra – “Don’t talk about it, be about it!”
I find this activity to be crucial to establish positive tone in an online class. Much like our own class meeting Dr. Rice facilitated last week, such interaction exemplifies good teaching. Considering the challenges facing online educators, any outreach that helps close distance between teacher and student and their learning coach or parent seems like a win to me.

Building an Avatar:

Reading Reflections – 521

Quotes from Readings and Class Tasks and Activities

  • Good teaching is good teaching, regardless of the setting (Rice, 2012, p. 39).
  • …the most important skills…online environments: an understanding of when and how to implement appropriate instructional strategies for successful student outcomes (Rice, 2012, p. 41).
  • In an online course, it is imperative that they (students) be active knowledge-generators who assume responsibility for constructing and managing their own learning experience (Conrad & Donaldson, 2011, p. 5).

Thoughts/Learning/Questions

  • Effective online instruction encourages or promotes five outcomes:
  1. Learner autonomy
  2. Active participation
  3. Collaboration and community building
  4. Authentic assessment
  5. Acquisition of 21st century skills (Rice, 2012, p. 27)
  • Learners must be involved to succeed and instructors must be willing to reach the learner and reduce the Transactional Distance.
  • Enjoyed the online discussions more as I witnessed building the community.
  • Always interested in watching book material come to life.
  • Maybe there is hope for this dinosaur in the 21st century.