How Would I Describe My Online Learning Experience For Teachers Reflection

We spend an immense amount of time and money on education technology products and solutions designed to help educators engage students on the digital channel. And yet, teachers feel the need to remind students about the basics of what the fundamentals of an essay are.

Charles McArthur is a practicing teacher, educator, adult learner, TEDx speaker, author, and about-to-be-ex-musician (full disclosure, I get paid to sell loogies). As the co-host of Cross-Generational Mix Tape, a podcast dedicated to charting the ties between education and pop culture, he’s tried to put together jukebox jockeys for four classrooms. In his office, he hosted students who would play a song before class, ask about classes they would take that week, and respond to prompts. He researched with two teachers to create a reflective activity for teachers, after an intense realization that all kinds of cool experiments have to be conducted through the clouds. He says, “I want teachers to really reflect on their own teaching experiences. If there’s a thing where I’m struggling, I want teachers to take that and run with it.” He presents these exercises below, which I hope will encourage teachers to explore:

Before Music Floats

Noting that classroom instruments are rare, Charles and his class tried playing flute, guitar, guitar, cello, and banjo before their first lecture. “I like that there are some we really didn’t play with all the fun songs they happened to have,” he says. “That’s okay. If people don’t really like listening to that, it’s okay.” The exercise forces them to consider teaching challenges and pros and cons to progress their educational journey.

While Classmates

Teaching is one of the most important things that happens during a student’s lifetime. That is true in education and in music. Charles’ students looked to past perspectives to figure out themselves. “I had one student who realized she didn’t actually know exactly how she went about engaging with students in the classroom. She would start to read the instructions, then we would play music, and she realized she didn’t understand what the guidelines were. Another person was very disciplined—he would do six projects, pull 15 videos off YouTube, and create his own organic rap song. He discovered this was how he responded to others.” Getting students to exercise their imaginations is more important than ever.

Music to the Music Teacher

Charles brought in an instrument to play a teacher a song, based on one of his classroom questions. He delivered this anthem with over 50 teachers as instruments. “We wanted a song with different meanings to different teachers. One person could hear the song and think of the assignment ahead of time, one could get a catchy response to their own questions, and one could enjoy it for enjoyment. If we have, at the end of the school year, dozens of teachers jamming together, that’s a really cool thing to talk about.”

Orchids and Their Bloom

In his second assignment, Charles decided to pick a flower to celebrate and give to each teacher. He chose an orchid, specifically a different ‘flora’ than the students. “Some teachers had flowers planted and some didn’t. Some teachers told the story of the orchid, while others just took a photo of the flower.” This lighthearted exercise teaches them how to take pleasure in being creative as a teacher.

Mellow Mood

In class, they invented their own stations to create an environment of learning. Asking about how they prepare, understand, and know their own strengths, Charles says, “The student used the idea of studying individually in that they would notice themselves and notice what other people. There’s a balance in being self-aware and respecting other people.” “The power of playing music can lead to creativity—meeting people’s own taste and creating connections.”

Storytelling in Music

Stephen said he was thinking about how he wanted to write a song that was more upbeat and celebratory rather than traditional. Charles says, “The main characteristics of his music were joy and celebratory. He said he was making a song that was in your face. You notice certain things about that. Maybe it’s joyful and wants to talk about what it’s like to be a teacher. Maybe it’s joyful about sharing what it’s like to have a job and changing people’s lives. I looked at his lyrics and they said something about being an educator.”

Charles also warns that what we learn from this will actually last a lifetime. “It will affect everything teachers do.”

Cross-Generational Mix Tape’s upcoming line-up includes the annual Canvas in Classbox challenge in March 2019, re-launch of the Cross-Generational Mix Tape podcast, and the final installment of Teacher’s Blog to be released online in December 2018.

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