My Reflective Practice: Pondering Implications When Students Reflect the Teacher

(Image source: "Mirror, mirror on the wall" by epicture's (More off than on); Creative Commons license; https://www.flickr.com/photos/edastrauch/537710440/

(Image source: “Mirror, mirror on the wall” by epicture’s (More off than on); Creative Commons license; https://www.flickr.com/photos/edastrauch/537710440/

As I come to the finish of my second cohort for OLTD 506: Special Topics—Social Media, I am reflecting on my evaluation perspective. It’s not so much the nuts and bolts—though those are affected—but whether what I am marking is based on my expertise in a emergent field, specifically FIPPA (RSBC 1996) compliant educational uses of social media in British Columbia, Canada, or whether there is something more at play. What brought this to mind was an incident in the final synchronous meeting session with the 2014 post-graduate students. While I was in the midst of the final session, I received an email from a colleague in the K-12 sector with a very interesting social media situation. I verbally reframed the issue as a mini-case study to protect the identifying information, and posed the question to the attendees. My thought at the time was, “What better final test of what my students have learned, then to see how they would respond to an informed BC educator’s concerns in this situation? Could they target the key concerns?” A second thought was, “And how well would their analysis align with mine as the expert learner in this situation?”

When several of my students stepped up to the virtual mic, each addressing the key issues as I would have identified them, and proposing the rationale—again as I would have explained it, I was very proud of them: their responses clearly indicated that they were able to process the issue in the way I, as an ‘expert’ in the area would have done. Later, I began to reflect on my response to the students’ analyses more deeply. Was I reacting favourably to my students’ responses because they were what would be expected of an expert, or because they reflected what I specifically would have done? It’s a difficult question for me, as I believe at this point in time there are few people with the knowledge and expertise to train educators in the issues surrounding social media use within the scope of the strict privacy legislation governing BC public schools and institutions. At the same time, I am aware and quite explicit with my students that I have clear philosophical leanings. For example, I believe that social media has a place and purpose in a 21st Century classroom, that teacher professionalism extends to work with and in social media, that privacy is not dead and the respect for it needs to be taught, that educators have a role in supporting student development—and by extension the development of society—in the pro-social uses of technology for teaching and learning. As I continue to reflect on this as an educator, one thing is clear: if my students continue responding to social media issues as they did in the final synchronous session of OLTD 506 (2014), I believe that it will be evident that they studied the topic under my guidance.

Quite often, we can trace the philosophical/academic lineage between students and teachers when we know the work of the individuals just as we see influences between artists. I haven’t necessarily judged this student reflection of the teacher as good or ill. I think I need to further ponder and analyze the potential implications for myself and my students. I also think that my process and evaluative approaches are founded and driven by my philosophical underpinnings and therefore cannot be teased apart. Perhaps only the field can ultimately value whether having my students reflect my process/evaluative knowledge and my philosophical leanings is positive. As with all things, maybe it will only be good, until something better comes along. When it does, I’ll be signing up for that professor’s course. 😉

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