My Philosophy of Teaching… I think?!?

Media LiteracyIt’s a new semester and new academic year. I can’t believe this is now my second semester at CSUSM and that I have effectively been teaching for over 5 years. I like to think I have learned a lot about teaching, learning, and education in that time but I think the more I have learned the more I understand how much i DON’T know or just when I think I have an assignment figured out, something changes requiring me to adapt and change with it. Some of my friends think that as a professor I spend most of my time sitting around doing nothing. HA! Little do they know about the hours of planning and adjusting assignments and policies to ensure that I am meeting certain learning outcomes. I get it, that sometimes it seems like things I do (or educators in general) don’t make sense. In reality, you have to remember the big picture and understand that much of learning is a process and that things do build upon each other.

To that end I have been thinking about my own philosophy of teaching. I actually wrote a blog post about this as a doc student many years ago if you are interested you can read it here. Essentially, my philosophy of teaching tends to be student-centered. I realize that students bring a lot of knowledge and experience into the classroom. The challenge I have is getting students to recognize that they have something to bring and they can make such a meaningful contribution to our learning if they share. Along with knowledge and skills the students bring, I have realized they also bring anxiety or trepidation about sharing and being shut down. I understand that students need to feel comfortable (something that the University of Chicago just negated so to speak) before they can share. I try to empathize with students and let them know that my classroom is a safe space and I try to make it so that they can share. But I realize that the message does not always come through. I hope to keep on trying to communicate this as I move forward.

Being student-centered to me is about making students comfortable but also understanding that it can be challenging to wrestle with tough topics like racism and oppression or statistics. What I try to do is set students up to feel empowered to take on those challenges in a way that they know they can try, even if they fail or get a B-…But at least they can understand they are learning. For me it is about thinking critically and valuing the process of learning, respecting one’s peers, and keeping an open mind. I tend to use digital media in my classes because of my research interests but lately I question the use of those mediums as students appear to be overly distracted. I know that my teaching philosophy is going to change and it will continually change over the course of my career but I hope students will always know they can come to me if they have questions. That connection is important and feeling empowered is critically important to the learning process.

So for this new semester I do plan to try a couple of new things both using and not using technology. If I have any students reading this blog I hope they will understand that I may not have all the answers but at least I can help them find what they are looking for and to do so in a way that helps to transform the way they look at education and interacting with people. Best of luck to everyone with the new semester and if you have any good ideas, tips or tricks. Please consider sharing.

Thanks!

End of the Semester Reflections, Spring 2016

My students sometimes give me the roll-eyed look when I talk about our profession being one of self-reflection. I know it’s true and I am confident that you can find many programs across the country that also have some sort of reflection-based assignment in one of their courses. Self-reflection is critical to the learning process. There is even a great journal focused solely on this subject called Reflections: Narratives of Professional Helping. Full disclosure, I have a recent publication in this journal 🙂  To this end I thought I would reflect a bit on the second semester of my first year at Cal State San Marcos.

This semester has been full of working with students on their culminating experience, which is either a capstone project or Thesis. I had the opportunity to chair several projects and be part of others. These projects focused on veterans, homelessness, and social media in clinical social work practice. I’m sure the students might share a different perspective, but I enjoyed the opportunity to work with them. It was challenging at times and yes I am exhausted but that could be due to the fact that I haven’t read that much paper since my dissertation phase.  These projects turned out rather well and gave me a renewed sense to pursue some avenues of research I was becoming dis-interested in. For example, one group focused on developing an advocacy campaign around homelessness. See the trailer below. I was truly amazed at how well this project turned out and extremely pleased with the learning demonstrated by these, and all students.

 

 

Another example of some great student learning through reflection happened in my macro practice course. I employ a critical thinking presentation assignment and pretty much leave it open to the students to create a presentation that demonstrates their learning as it applies to one or more of the course learning objectives. These objectives are also tied to the learning competencies set forth by CSWE. Students did an amazing job this semester thinking critically and reflecting on their learning. I use twitter in this class and I had students create presentations that used some of the twitter assignment that they completed in class.  One particularly creative use of this was developing a word cloud of the course hashtag from the semester’s tweets and talking about how it related to their learning.

word cloud

If you are interested in creating word clouds you can use a number of different web-based platforms such as http://www.wordle.net/ or applications like TweetRoot. I really like the word clouds because they also represent a form of data visualization where the larger words represent the number of times those words were used. It is reassuring to see my students tweeting messages, links, and other content related to community, awareness, and change. These are things that definitely make up Macro Social Work practice.

I can honestly say this semester has been fun and challenging. I thoroughly enjoy teaching students about macro social work and positive social change. I am looking forward to teaching research this summer and to my other class in the fall. But I’m wondering what you do to help students reflect, be mindful, and engage in otherwise formative learning activities?  Maybe you, as a student, have participated in a learning activity that was especially meaningful. I hope that you will leave a comment and let me know so I can think about using my class the next time 🙂

#BPDTX16 Annual Conference for Baccalaureate Program Directors

The annual conference for the Baccalaureate Program Directors is taking place this week in Dallas, Texas. Unfortunately I am not able to attend because I maxed out on my allotment of conferences for this academic year but I wanted to call your attention to the conference hashtag #BPDTX16 on Twitter because you can follow the conference and get some great updates from various social work educators, students, and practitioners who are in attendance.
dallas-tx-skyline

 This conference is really geared towards social work education at the undergraduate level but still features some great research presentations and teaching workshops. One such workshop I was meant to be apart of was put on by Stephen Baldridge of Abilene Christian University and Laurel Hitchcock of the University of Alabama at Birmingham. The workshop was titled “Social Media Technology Basics for the Social Work Educator” and featured some great content related to using social media in social work education. Dr. Hitchcock wrote a great blog post about the presentation, which also included the presentation abstract. The three of us regularly use social media in our classes and have found it to be useful to students. Be sure to go check out that blog post and if you have questions, you can always leave me a comment or reply to me on Twitter.

Student Documentary Movie Night 2-25-2016 with #MacroSW Chat

Dr. Laurel Hitchcock and I are once again partnering with #MacroSW to have a discussion about Income Inequality in America. We have used this innovative assignment and engaging documentary for a couple years now and even published some of our findings in Social Work Education: The International Journal. I hope you will join us this Thursday at 9pm Central, 6pm Pacific Time as we organize around the #MacroSW hashtag on Twitter to talk about this important issue. Also, please go and checkout the MacroSW blog for more information.

Screen Shot 2015-03-13 at 9.51.40 AM

#MacroSW Chat October 8th at 9pm EST

Inequality for All: Student-Focused #MacroSW Twitter Chat on 10/8/15

Laurel Hitchcock of University of Alabama at Birmingham and I (Jimmy Young of the California State University San Marcos) are working with the wonderful folks at #MacroSW Chat to host a live Twitter chat for social work students in March. While the chat is designed with students in mind, anyone is welcome to join us. Here are the details:

 

Topic: Inequality for All – we recommend watching the documentary by Robert Reich before the chat.

 

Date & Time: October 8, 2015 at 8:00 PM CST/6:00 PM PST

 

Hashtag: #MacroSW

 

Hosts: Jimmy Young and Laurel Hitchcock

Questions:

  1. What is happening today in terms of distribution of wealth? Why is it happening? What do you see happening and what are the causes?
  2. When do you think inequality becomes a problem?
  3. If the government sets the rules for how the market functions, who do these rules benefit or hurt?
  4. Who is looking out for the American worker? Who do you think should be and what could be done?
  5. After watching the film, do you agree/disagree with the idea of equal opportunity and the American Dream?
  6. What do you think most Americans don’t realize about income Inequality?
  7. What single word best describes how the film made you feel?
  8. What’s next? How do we as social workers address inequality or move forward?

If you are an educator wanting to incorporate this chat as an assignment into your class, please click here for details. We hope you can join us!

Please contact us (by clicking on our names below) if you plan to have your class or maybe a student group participate in the chat. We also welcome questions.

 

Jimmy Young

Laurel Hitchcock

 

 

A New Academic Year – Fall 2015

I initially sat down to write this post several weeks ago but things just keep getting busier and I don’t know if I will ever have a truly free moment to reflect on this upcoming semester. So here it goes…

After an extended summer break from this blog, and really most things related to teaching, tech, and research, I am back in the throws of a new semester and in a new location. In case you didn’t know I am now part of the MSW program at California State University San Marcos, which is located in northern San Diego County of Southern California. The setting is amazing as I try to get to the beach as often as I can. The institution is also amazing and I have been telling everyone that it is easy to see the influence of our President (who is also a social worker) Dr. Karen Haynes in all areas of Campus. I am excited for this new opportunity and excited to get to know many new wonderful colleagues and students.

Here at CSUSM I still plan to pursue my interests of social media and technology in social work education and nonprofit administrations, but I also hope to move into new directions to assess the impact of technology on individuals, families, communities, and organizations. I also have some ideas for health literacies as they related to my work on digital literacies that I hope to pursue within the community. I think CSUSM is an innovative place where many of my ideas will be able to be implemented and tested.

I am also excited to be in the MSW program and working with students on research projects and getting know students as they matriculate through our program. I hear it’s been a rocky road but with our new director and others that have been hired on this year I think the future is looking very bright and I’m excited to be part of it.  One last hope I have is to continue blogging some of my learning experiences here and sharing with those of you who actually read my blog 🙂 The past year was a busy one where I was steadfastly working on publications. Six publications in one year was never really a goal but just happened. I am grateful but I am also looking to getting back to writing in this space. For instance, Dr. Laurel Hitchcock and I are once again conducting our Live Twitter Chat this semester, in a few weeks actually and I will have another blog post up in a few days. This new semester and new start are very exciting and I hope to achieve lots. Check back once in awhile to see what I’m up to and as always, you can usually find me on Twitter 🙂

 

Creating Social Media Policies for the Classroom

I know I haven’t written anything all summer as I have been moving and getting settled in Southern California but I wanted to share another publication that just came out in the Journal Advances in Social Work. I really love this journal because it is open access and it has some amazing authors contributing important and timely information to the literature. You can access the journal here https://journals.iupui.edu/index.php/advancesinsocialwork and you can find my article title:

Developing Ethical Guidelines for Creating Social Media Technology Policy in Social Work Classrooms

This was a great collaboration with Dr. Brady and Dr. McLeod from the University of Oklahoma. We have a few other things we are working on as well and fingers crossed they will come out sometime next year.

Okay. Back to summer vacation as the semester starts up for me in a short few weeks.

Digital Advocacy in Community Organizing

This is just a really quick post to share a recent article from my colleagues and I that was published in the Journal of Community Practice. The article is titled:

Utilizing Digital Advocacy in Community Organizing: Lessons Learned from Organizing in Virtual Spaces to Promote Worker Rights and Economic Justice

The first 50 copies are available free via this link —> http://bit.ly/digitaladvocacy

and if you follow Dr. Brady or Dr. McLeod on Twitter, I am sure they will also share their author copies in case mine get all used up 🙂

Feel free to leave a comment or find me on Twitter as I am moving this summer to Southern California, my blog will be rather quiet until this Fall. Have a great summer in case I don’t update before then.

African American Pioneers in Social Work

I would like to thank SocialWork@Simmons for alerting me to this amazing resource and to be honest I meant to share this much earlier in the month but time seems to slip past me relatively easily.

Their blog features digital placards developed in partnership with SocialWorkHelper.com highlighting prominent African-American advocates for Black History Month. Visit their blog for more resources but in the mean time here are the placards below:

Mary Church Terrell:

African American Pioneers in Social Services, SocialWork@Simmons

George Edmund Haynes:

African American Pioneers in Social Service, SocialWork@Simmons

Thyra J. Edwards:

African American Pioneers in Social Service, SocialWork@Simmons

Lester Blackwell Granger:

African American Pioneers in Social Service, SocialWork@Simmons

Dorothy Height:

African American Pioneers in Social Service, SocialWork@Simmons

#MacroSW Chat March 12th 8pm CST #Inequality For All

Laurel Hitchcock and I are once again partnering with the #MacroSW Chat to host a live one hour chat on the topic of Inequality. We encourage you to participate and if you get the chance, please view the film Inequality for All prior to the chat. The film is very well done and it sets the context for the chat. We had a great experience last semester with this assignment and hope to replicate it again. The following is a re-blog from Laurel’s website:

Spring 2015 Live Twitter Chat Assignment for Social Work Students

To help social work students and educators learn about Twitter and develop the skills to participate in a live chat, Jimmy Young of the University of Nebraska-Kearney and I (Laurel Hitchcock of University of Alabama at Birmingham) have designed an assignment for social work students that involves joining a live Twitter chat with other social work students, educators and practitioners from around the country to talk about important social and economic justice issues. The assignment is designed for a policy or macro-practice course, but it can be incorporated into almost any social work course. Here are the some of the details of the assignment:

  1. Students watch the documentary Inequality for All, and then write a brief reaction paper to movie.
  2. Then, students participate in the live Twitter chat scheduled for March 12, 2015 at 8:00 PM CST. This chat will be sponsored by #MacroSW, a bi-weekly Twitter chat focusing on macro social work practice issues, and hosted by Jimmy and I. During the chat, we will ask questions about the film and income inequality that will guide the flow of the conversation.
  3. After the live chat, students write a brief self-reflection essay about the experience of participating in the chat.

 

While the written parts of the assignment are optional to participate in the chat, we highly recommend some type of reflection so students are engaged with the content from the documentary prior to the chat, and have an opportunity to critically assess how the experience can inform their future social work practice. We have written in more detail about the assignment in previous blog posts which include detailed instructions for the assignment, grading rubrics and tips on how to introduce your students to Twitter. Our first chat was held on October 28, 2014, and you can read details about it here, including a transcript of tweets from the conversation. There is no cost to educators or students to participate in the chat, and we welcome anyone, especially social work practitioners, to join the chat.

 

Because we are working to improve the chat and the assignment as an educational experience for social work students, we are very interested in any feedback from social work educators. Please contact us (by clicking on our names below) if you plan to have your class or maybe a student group participate in the chat. We also welcome questions.

 

Jimmy Young

Laurel Hitchcock

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