How Master’s in LS helped me in COVID times

I started my master’s in Spring of 2019. Since then, it has been compulsory to use Zoom, screencastify, flipgrid, whiteboard, google suites, wordpress, and so many others.

When it all went down last March 2020, one of the first things that became ubiquitous was the Zoom. This is something to which I had been exposed in the summer of 2019. These zoom conferences varied in purpose: some to ask a professor a question, others to meet with group members for a project, other times, to attend a synchronous lesson. Then there was INFO…. where we learned the meaning of synchronous and asynchronous. I remember thinking that these terms were completely absent from my day to day jargon in the teaching field. I remember my first Flipgrid in INFO 5000 where I had to record myself saying a few things about myself.

Here we are, this master’s has not only helped me

Now, flipgrids are a vital part of both assessment and giving feedback to students.

Now, asynchronous and synchronous are just as normal jargon as saying “1st period”

Now, Zoom calls, TEAMS calls and Google Meets are comfortable and normal.

Now, I know what the digital divide is in the flesh.

Now, I know now more than ever, the importance, nay how critical it is to have tools to use with your students.

Great learner ≠ Great student

The theater teacher/ department head at my school, had the fine arts team watch a video lecture/clinic. It was a lecture by a theatre director, Rick Garcia, who was speaking to fellow theatre students. He rallied for them to take risks, using the phrase, “Ready, fire, aim.” I found out later that it was a reference to a book by called “Ready, Fire, Aim: Zero to $100 in No Time Flat,” about taking risks in a business and entrepreneurial world. Immediately after, my co-worker looked at me and said, “you do that really well.”

That is my default setting. I do. I do, and then I read the directions. I skim directions, I do, mess up horribly, then read the directions more carefully. This has earned me, in some of my closest circles, a comparison to the character Dory, from the Pixar movies Finding Dory and Finding Nemo

Here is the problem. While I relish in taking risks, this practice and habit of doing first has caused stress and wasted time in my life. For instance, I do not take notes. I do not outline. When I had the idea of starting a YouTube book review channel, my husband suggested I storyboard it and he could help record and edit. I laughed, saying something like, “yeah, no.” 

Fast forward to today, when I have assignment due and I am struggling. I need to change. At first, I thought I would make my goal to take notes, make outlines and create a storyboard, but Nessa needs to start from the beginning. I need to read directions. Today, for instance, we have a piktochart due by 11:59pm that has all sorts of requirements. I’ve been working it all week, playing around with graphics, and reading articles, then piecing them together. At 2pm today, I re-read the directions and it turns out I did it on the wrong topic.

So, here I am, not panicking, but realizing there are many lessons to be learned from this experience. I will finish this homework, I will close my chrome book, inhale, exhale and start fresh as the student I know I can learn to be…tomorrow.

Hello World

Hello World

I have now been pursuing my Master’s for one month. There is life before now and there is life now. There is life before baby and there is life now. There is life before being a teacher and there is life now. Life now is all these things and more. And yet, it is calm in many ways and therapeutic. There is a mindfulness that occurs everyday when I wake up as I scan how I feel, gauge how my sleep was, and start the day. 

I don’t know what I expected starting this degree other than the face that I would be filling in a lot of gaps in content since I currently teach choir and not language arts or reading. I do know that I expected to read more young adult books. Here are two things that have happily surprised me. 

I have been able to apply what I have been learning immediately. I had never heard of inquiry based learning and as soon as I read the Levitov article from our required reading entitled, “School libraries, librarians and inquiry learning,” I tried some things out in the choir classroom the next day. After going over a very rough lesson (my first time) on using objective vocabulary to describe the tone and pitch of a singer, I had students answer a few questions on an exit card. The last question was, “What questions do you have about the voice?”

  1. How would you describe the tone of the singer
  2. How would you describe the pitch (range and register)
  3. What questions do you have about the voice?

Why had I never done this before?

I found the rewards and joy in this inquiry based approach. Some questions the students asked were about me personally, “Why did you cut your hair?” Others were questions I didn’t know they had, “How can you hurt your voice?” “How do you become an opera singer?” “How high can you sing?” 

Secondly, I realized that young adult literature isn’t awful. I have been so elitist in my view of literature, that for the longest time, I refused to read anything other than classics with authors like Tolstoy and Proust. I have come to realize that I have been limiting myself to Western male literature. In the past 9 months, I have read a dozen young adult books. I have found that instead of vapid stories of cheesy teen love, there exists poignant, funny, honest and devastatingly heartbreaking young adult literature