• Mama PhD

    Mothers attempting to balance parenthood and academics.


An Olympic Class

A different kind of commentary.

August 17, 2016

I have been watching too much Olympic coverage. As I listened to the commentary during gymnastics competition, I couldn’t help but wonder what it would be like if teaching were judged in the same way as the Olympics. It might go something like this:

Announcer 1: Laura is stepping into the room with 15 years of teaching experience. She’s mid-career now. In some ways this gives her an advantage. She has a lot of experience that she can fall back on. She’s likely, though, to lag behind in the technology of her peers. We also sometimes don’t see the same enthusiasm levels.

Announcer 2: I agree with you about the technology. We certainly do not see the same level of technology use in teachers at this level in the career. They don’t often use the clicker as a polling device. We do not typically see a social media site set up. Yet, I don’t know if I agree with you about enthusiasm levels. I have seen high energy across all ages and career stages. So, we’ll just see what she brings to this game (err, class). Let’s watch as she begins.

Announcer 1: Ooh, interesting. She just opened up with an in-class writing assignment for five minutes. This is a great way to engage students and move them off their devices.

Announcer 2: But, she’s going to lose points because she forgot to clearly state her learning objectives.

Announcer 1: Yes, that is an automatic half-point deduction. Okay, she’s moving into discussion. She’s dividing the students into groups. Looks like she’s attempting to flip the classroom.

Announcer 2: Yes, she clearly is attempting The Flip. This brings her potential difficulty score higher than others she is competing against, so she has the potential to earn many points. Yet, we all know the perils of this. There is a danger that she might never actually impart any new information to the students.

Announcer 1: Yes, we saw that in the Intro class in 2012. The flip can have a big payoff if the right balance is set.

Announcer 2: Okay, she’s bringing up some Powerpoint slides. They have clear pictures, links, and will serve as the core of her lecture. This is a great move.

Announcer 1: This makes me wonder, though, why her coaches would let her stick with Powerpoint and not consider PowToon or Prezi. It would have allowed her a more competitive interface.

Announcer 2: I can’t disagree here, but look, she’s about to apply gamification to the classroom. This is impressive, as it poses great risks because the student application cannot be planned. She will have to respond on her feet.

Announcer 1: Look at this: student just made borderline sexist remark. She quickly acknowledged it, responded to it, and has the class back on track. Amazing. See what years of experience can bring to the game. Let’s watch a slow-motion instant replay of that one.

Announcer 2: I like what she did with the sleepers in the back of the room. See how she physically moved around the classroom to wake them up? But she does seem to be ignoring some students on their phones. Perhaps she’s just too intently focused?

Announcer 1: At this level of competition, instructors rarely get rattled. Did you see the eye roller in the fourth seat? She clearly noticed her but didn’t let it bother her.  She also didn’t get flustered with the front-row student challenging her entire thesis.

Announcer 2: That’s where it is fun to watch her. It’s like she deals with these problems every single day. Just an aside, the students’ social media accounts are buzzing. They are absolutely loving the challenge to the sexist remark. There’s even some texting to their moms about how they like the class. Oh wait, she is, however, getting negative remarks on her wardrobe. They think her shoes do not match her skirt and believe that she wore the same blouse in last week’s class. Of course, that has no bearing on the competition, but it certainly can affect fan appreciation.

Announcer 1: Yes, she might want to consider a branding specialist here. Meanwhile, it looks like she summing up now. Though she missed her learning goals in her initial set-up, she does appear to be offering a summary now.

Announcer 2: Yes, all in all, she seems to have a decent shot at a medal. Up next, though, a newcomer to the field poses some serious competition. She describes new technologies like mind mapping and the compiling of big data as the key component to her teaching. We’ll be back after a word from our sponsors.



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