Monday, January 31, 2011

Do you mind if I talk about you?

I have been thinking about my blog again and the seems to be a regular thing I do every six months or so. What's brought on my angst this time is my new job as midwifery lecturer. I would never talk about my students in a personal way, but I am wondering how much I will be able to talk about my new role and my experiences of teaching under-graduate midwifery students here?

The other thing I am thinking about is whether I should continue to process my thinking about things like assessment here on this blog. For example, I was about to write a post about my thoughts on assessing clinical skills at a distance. I have to put together an exam that tests certain clinical skills and plan to write a blog post about it because:
  • I will have a written record of my thoughts to look back on;
  • I will be contributing to educators' knowledge about this issue;
  • I will be receiving ideas and advice from others who have already developed this sort of assessment;
  • I will have evidence of my work for my ePortfolio.
This is all well and good but will processing my thoughts here make it look like I don't know what I am doing? Will that impact on students' perceptions of my knowledge and expertise? Does any of this matter because the chances of my students reading this rather boring blog about education are pretty slim?

On the other hand, if students read this blog and contributed their own ideas to help me develop their cool would that be?!

What do you think? If you are an educator, what do you blog about related to your job? If you are a student, how do you feel about reading the thoughts of your lecturer in relation to your course/program?


Claire Thompson said...

You said, "This is all well and good but will processing my thoughts here make it look like I don't know what I am doing? Will that impact on students' perceptions of my knowledge and expertise?" I think that as educators we are first and foremost learners. If we can't model for our students the attitudes and behaviours that good learners possess then there's something wrong.

When I was doing my practicum to become a teacher, I had a wonderful advisor. One day in class he observed me owning up to my students about an error I had made. Afterwards he told me that I should NEVER do that. It is the one piece of advice he gave me that I decided to ignore.

I don't know everything there is to know about my subject area nor do I know everything about teaching, and I'm not going to pretend I do. At the same time I work very hard to be as good as I can be and to learn as much as I can. I think my students realize that. So when a lesson goes badly I think that it is the right thing to do to say, "wow, that wasn't what I'd hoped for, but thanks for hanging on for the ride. Next time it will be better." I think the students respect me for being open and honest with them. I'm demonstrating that mistakes are an opportunity for learning and improving.

So I'd say, go ahead and keep blogging :-)

Jessica Austin, Birth Doula said...

Blog Away! This is a great idea... it would be so helpful as a student to see where your educator is coming from, and I also think it would make you more approachable to bring comments and questions to.

My favorite teachers/professors have always been the ones who don't claim to know it all, and who show that they're open to feedback and questions.

"On the other hand, if students read this blog and contributed their own ideas to help me develop their cool would that be?!" VERY cool. Education should be about learning from eachother and helping each other succeeed!

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with Claire and Jessica. I don't have a problem with letting my students know that I'm learning and make mistakes. I don't expect them to know everything - no one does. All I want is that they are self aware and know when they need to know something, then have the skills to find information and reflect on their learning. As educators we should be modelling this process, not setting ourselves up as experts... otherwise we will be caught out at some point. We are human.
I also think it is good to include students in developing their learning/assessment. They then also have ownership of how things are done.
Also I want to read about your journey - so keep writing!

In two minds said...

Sarah, I say keep it up! I am a firm believer in open musing, I think it helps bridge the gap between lecturer and learner. As a student (many years ago now) I clearly recall having much more respect for those who taught me when they reflected 'in action' as it were, and as a teacher I have no problem inviting students' views and opinions on how their own learning and assessment is designed. I would go so far as to say that one of the most useful things we can do as teachers is put our working processes on display - those that come after us learn as much from that as the content we deliver I think.

Thinkbirth said...

I agree with all the comments here, in particular sharing the 'reflection in action' aspect of teaching/learning.

Speaking/writing out the learning process engages so much more of the brain, enabling richer and deeper connections and insights. Having the students contribute is brilliant, as new eyes always see things in fresher and more complete ways. Those of us who have been around for a while, screen out much of what's really happening, so a fresh perspective is always beneficial.

I too look forward to your learning journey Sarah and seeing the students engage in this way. Seems like a very respectful and holistic learning modality.
kind regards, Carolyn

Sarah Stewart said...

Thank you all very much for your comments. It was good to see your responses. I don't think there is much going on in regards to blogging and midwifery education, so I appreciate this opportunity to run things by you all.

It will be interesting to see if I get any of my students dropping by. I don't get many comments from midwifery students at the moment and I do not imagine that will change...they are much more likely to engage with the clinical blogs.

Anonymous said...

Hi Sarah,
I came across your blog before I entered into my midwifery course that I am doing at the moment. I love reading your posts - all of them! Because of your blogs I have entered the virtual world and discovered the birthing rooms in virtual life. And because of this can no longer pay out my partner for playing 'WOW'. As a student, I think (and how often do you get to write that as a student) that your ability to engage with such a diverse and wide audience is fantastic. As a student, and waiting to get into the course I could not read enough midwifery blogs, and your blog sits in my favourite list. So THANKYOU, goodluck with your new role, and please keep blogging the way you always have.

Sarah Stewart said...

Hi anonymous, thank you so much for your comment. It is one of the nicest things that has been said about this blog. Bless you :)

Don't forget the Virtual International Day of the Midwife coming up on May 5th...there will be lots of events you can attend, and hopefully hook up with other students from all over the world: