Look at me when I’m talking to you.Every parent ever
In the post, she described her efforts to try to reach out and include all students in her classroom. Rather than relying on a single tool, she’s pulling out many other things from her digital toolbox.
She had me thinking about how I handle myself in populated learning sessions like classrooms or lecture halls or online. I do indeed like to look at whoever is talking. That’s why my preferred seat was always at the front, right side of the room. Being right handed, I could turn to the left to see who was talking and still take notes. In online meetings, I like the feature that promotes the speaker to a bigger image.
Even in department meetings, I would arrive early and plop my laptop or other materials down in a primo seat before getting my coffee so that I was in a position to easily see everyone else in the room.
And, it’s not like I am always an actively vocal participant. It’s not that I’m detached either but I do like to listen and have always have a bit of resentment for those types that like to monopolize the conversation. I’m not a fan of going around the table and finding out how everyone spent their weekend. It always seems to be a time filler and I’ve been known just to “pass”.
I’m not saying that my style is correct; it’s just me. And yet, when the time calls for it, I can stand up in front of a group of people and teach or present or lead a meeting online. My first superintendent called me a “closet extrovert”. There are just those occasions when you’re expected to step up and lead. Then, there are those occasions when you could be a passive participant.
So, I visualize myself in Melanie’s class. I’m guessing I would be the Brady Bunch square in one of the corners listening to what’s happening but remaining silent for the most part. It’s a challenging environment as well as I can see people talking over each other without the visible cues that we would normally expect to see in a classroom. Courtesy still prevails and we see it when multiple people start to talk and then simultaneously stop when they realize someone else is talking.
Or, at least that’s how I think I’d react. I think I’ve mentioned before that I join a group of friends every week for a beer in a Zoom meeting. As per usual, I find myself quiet and enjoying the stories but there are times when the conversation lulls. It’s at those moments that I feel the need to join in and say something. Maybe that’s a good thing? Maybe that’s just a consequence of the tool that we’re using? Maybe there’s a desire to change because of the isolation that I’m experiencing?
Back to what Melanie’s doing, I can only think that her efforts to reach out and engage all students is so much more impressive and a tribute to her as a teacher. I know that I would appreciate being acknowledged and then allowed to learn as I normally would. At this time of the year, I’m sure that she would know what to expect from me and my habits. And yet, I’m sure that she would be flexible and understanding enough to recognize that it might change given any one of a myriad of reasons.
I’m hoping that you may have some observations about behaviour, consistent or changing, in your classes at this time. If so, feel free to share in the comments.