Earlier this summer I read Anthony Weeks’ article, Toward a New Ethic of Listening and have been thinking about it since in the context of how we listen to students.

When they come to us asking questions, asking for help, telling us their stories, how we listen to them informs how we respond.

Do we listen impatiently, hoping to get through all our appointments with enough time to plan the next class, finish marking assignments?

Do we listen half-attentively, dismissing their concerns (a little) because our own student experience allows us the privilege of believing student life can’t be that hard?

Do we listen cynically, hearing not their voices, but the voices of students who may have stretched the truth, manipulated us in previous semesters, and by golly, we are not falling for that again.

Or do we listen as we ought…with attention, with genuine interest, with caring, with empathy…listening with the understanding that on the other side of the story is a human being who needs and deserves to be heard and to be believed.

We can’t always change a deadline, fix a problem, or give a student what they are asking for.

But what we can do is listen to understand. Everyone deserves that.



I have not written. It has been a year.

Blame the labour dispute/work stoppage/strike (pick your language) – everyone else does. There can be no doubt that the 2017-2018 year was TOUGH on everyone. “An extraordinary year”, is what my Dean calls it…and she is not wrong.

There are a million posts I wanted to write. Changes in perspective. Thoughts on evaluation. Challenges. Opportunities. Gamification of curriculum. Internationalization. Books I’ve read. Faculty coaching. Conferences and retreats. Ontario Extends. OER. Worl-Life Balance.

The list continues.

The short version of all this is that I would like to make time to blog more regularly.

I updated this site today. It’s still a work in progress. I’m calling it Out-of-Office Hours because the truth is that even when I’m not in the office, I am sometimes thinking about work. I wanted a blog to reflect that.

photo of woman using her laptop

Photo by bruce mars on




Back in the classroom this week…and I had no voice for three days, so that was a fun challenge. 

I like to vary the way we discuss classroom expectations. Since I had no voice, I turned this activity over to the students today. This is what they like….and dislike…

Module 5: Final Wrap

Module 5: Final Wrap

As a final assignment, I have been working on connecting and communicating with my peers and colleagues about planning, instruction and assessment practices in a professional space.  I took professional space to be twofold: online, and in person. This final post sums up what those communications and connections have looked like and what the results are.

NOTE: There are a number of posts related to this ongoing journey of discovery. To read the Module 5 posts in order, they are as follows:

Original Plan and Follow Up

Originally, there were three professional organizations where I intended to further the discussions started during this course.

  1. College Association for Language and Literacy (CALL),
  2. Lawrence College Centre for Teaching and Learning; and
  3. Fleming College’s Learning Design and Support team.

In brief, I am planning to submit to the CALL newsletter and perhaps later, the journal, but will have to follow up on that once the new semester begins and everyone is back at work. I am thinking along the lines of the types of integrated assessment that could work well in a communications classroom. I have been invited to consider developing and submitting a proposal for the conference next year, and will give that some thought.

I had good feedback from my St. Lawrence College colleagues both in person and online, and there is definite interest in my sharing some of what I have learned at our opening sessions on campus in August. To that end I am including here a link to a SWAY outlining the organization of the workshop I am planning.

Fleming College’s Learning Design and Support team and I had earlier discussed my contributing to their Open Faculty Patchwork project, and I thought this would be a great opportunity to share some insights into assessment alignment. That project is currently in the completions stages, but there may still be room to pursue this in either this or a later iteration.

Online Discussions

I’ve had a great deal of success over the past few years building an integrated PLN on Twitter, and in the past few weeks have used that to further the conversations about planning, instruction, and assessment in light of the fluctuating perspectives around curriculum philosophies.

Below are screenshots of some of the discussions and interactions I have had on a variety of related subjects.

On the viability of incorporating video into class and how it affects student agency in the class and online… On instructional design opportunities… on conceptions of e-assessments…

Final Thoughts

As I surmised earlier in this course, the Technological concept of curriculum is one that is still trying to find its place. Technology can be used to explain understanding in a Perennialist or Essentialist philosophy of education, can be used to demonstrate and learn in a hands-on Reconstructivist philosophy, or can be used to show, to create, and to transform learning in a Progressive classroom or school. It is both all of these and none of them, depending on many factors not the least of which are the comfort levels of the teachers, the willingness to try new ideas, and the culture of an organization.  My discussions have been inconclusive; the teacher jury as to whether incorporating technology into a classroom and why and how and how much….is clearly divided.

On the other hand, there is a leaning towards a more humanistic and student centered curricular design. This runs the gamut from giving students choice over assignments, to giving choice over the entire curriculum. It too is not without naysayers, and there is pushback from Academic Rationalists who tout standardized tests and accountability and point out that there is some data supporting this perspective as well.

I have a great deal more thoughts on both of these and how the different perspectives play into and influence my own teaching and assessment choices, and will actively pursue writing about this over the course of the next few months.

Course Outcomes

I’d like to reflect on whether I met the course objectives in this section of the course.

They are stated as being

  1. to educate participants in your professional community about conceptions of curriculum, educational philosophies, curricular designs, planning, instruction, and evaluation;

I have certainly made an effort to do so. This is still a work in progress, in part because of the timing of the course (summer). However, given my role at my college as part of the School of Contemporary Teaching and Learning, and given that I am already planning a start up workshop on assessment, I feel confident that I will be continuing to meet this objective.

  1. to share your views based on your newly-acquired knowledge; and
  2. to stimulate dialogue of practice.

I do both of these regularly already. Specifically for this material, I have shared my views with the greater PLN on Twitter, and in doing so have encouraged dialogue through different mediums including an ongoing Padlet. This is in no way confined to online; through informal meetings over the summer with our faculty coach, we have been looking at ways to continue to “stimulate dialogue of practice” on our campus in the fall around this and other curriculum-related ideas.


Module 5: don’t let obstacles get in the way

My internet went down this week. You take it for granted that it will be there when you need it. And when it isn’t….well! 

I had offline work I could do however; primarily working out what kinds of sharing I can effectively do with my newly-gained understanding of curriculum philosophies and concepts, and their influence in the planning, instruction and assessment of college courses. 

Initially, this seemed -and seems – a stretch. One course hardly makes me an expert, so who am I to share any information with colleagues? Who am I to approach our administration with an offer of conducting some sort of professional development session at our start up in August. That was obstacle 2. 

I realized however that I was approaching it all wrong. I switched back to my collaborative mindset… we gave a culture of sharing at our campus, and I’ve led or participated in a number of “Brown Bag Lunches”. It’s about – I reminded myself – working together to discuss, unpack, consider….not to be the expert (which clearly I am not) but to bring the concepts to the table. 

And with that was able to draft some ideas and cobble together done rough outlines for what ideally I’d like to accomplish.

Third obstacle. Hey, it’s summer. I love summer. I took my first course deliberately this summer so I had time. I also have time for reading, relaxing, writing, spending time with family and friends. Because I am off. But so is everyone else. Although my Twitter PLN doesn’t sleep or take summers off (see image below), and I received feedback and comments from there, I haven’t had great results hearing back from some of the people I contacted. It’s a temporary roadblock. 

And so I wait. And plan. And consider.

Module 5: Ongoing Professional Communication

I started off creating a padlet asking my PLN how they approached curriculum design in a communications classroom. I posted this on twitter and my blog for dialogue and feedback. Immediately, I got a response that my privacy settings prevented retweeting (RT). I had changed my privacy settings temporarily because of some spam bots, and did not realize it affected RT options. Easy fix.

Around the same time, I approached the College Association for Language and Literacy (CALL) as per my Module 4 post to see what the guidelines are for submitting to their journal. They are looking for research based, experiential, philosophical or descriptive articles relating to higher education language and literacy instruction. Submissions need to be between 2500 and 8000 words, and there is no current call but that gives me time to consider my approach.

CALL also has a newsletter and I have reached out to the editor to find more information regarding that.

As I wait to hear from CALL, I extended my discussion to two places: 1) our internal St. Lawrence College Centre for Teaching and Learning and 2) Fleming College’s Learning Design and Support team. For the first, I wanted to know if there was a way for me to deliver some professional development in our start up sessions in August (there is!), and for the second, I had been contacted by them before via Twitter about contributing to their fantastic #openfacultypatchbook project, and thought perhaps there was an opportunity to explore (there is…maybe!). More on both these to come.