Today marks the 10 year anniversary of my blog, “Adventures in Oceanography and Teaching”! This blog is a pretty detailed documentation of my development as a teacher over the last 10 years. Now that my job is “to teach teachers how to teach”, is there any value in keeping the historical record of how I used to think about things, before I knew better?
I think there is. For several reasons, actually.
Looking back to my first month of blogging, August 2013, we find a very familiar image (see below): This #KitchenOceanography experiment is also featured on the cover of my new book! This example illustrates my main motivation for running this blog, and for keeping old posts up: Creating an archive of things related to my teaching that I want to easily find again. I can google things on my blog; being on my 5th job since starting the blog, it is highly unlikely that I would find something equally fast on back-ups of computers that I handed back years ago.
Another example. This morning, in a planning meeting for the “Introduction to Teaching and Learning” course I’ll be teaching in October, I pulled up the image below from my blog to show to my co-teacher as one fun way to talk about deep- and surface approach to learning, using a photo from our freediving training “spontaneously” projected on a white board after collecting aspects of deep- and surface approaches to learning, to drive home the message that students can choose which approach to use, but that sometimes a surface approach is necessary for survival, and that we as teachers do have some influence on what approach students take, but ultimately, it is up to them. I hope that this is a visualization that stuck with participants!
I find that using images that have a personal meaning to me (in this case: I am very much in a freediving phase right now and I love talking about it at every opportunity, and it is a picture I took myself) is a nice, authentic touch that makes me relatable as a teacher.
This blog is also a (curated, of course) profile of me as a teacher. But what you see on this blog is pretty much what you can expect when working with me. In the image below, also published in my first month of blogging, I explode a balloon full of water (read why here). I don’t mind making a fool of myself as a teacher, and I do it quite regularly if I think that it serves a purpose in my teaching.
Speaking of being authentic and vulnerable: in that planning meeting mentioned above, we decided that we would give participants in our course a modified UDL bingo and have them play it as a means to reflect on what we, the teachers, are doing well, and what we should be improving. That should prompt some discussion and make the topic much more accessible than if we just tell them what best practice theoretically looks like! Thank you for challenging me, Torgny!
I hope that with this blog, I am also modelling that it is ok to not be perfect as a teacher, but that it’s fun to continuously strive to get better. 10 years ago I didn’t know what I know now, and 10 years from know I will hopefully have learned so much more again! But documenting helps me see progress, and sharing my documentation and reflections has led to so many interesting conversations that I would not have had if I had kept my thoughts to myself. So many development opportunities that would not have happened, so much feedback that I would not have gotten. Teaching is a team effort — thank you for being on my team! And happy Birthday, “Adventures in Oceanography and Teaching”!
P.S.: Now, what is it with the muffins in the picture at the very top of this post? I baked them (in 2017!) because I wanted to have nice layers that I could investigate through pulling sediment cores with a straw, and I used them 5 years ago when reflecting on the first 5 years of this blog (which, as it turns out, is still very much how I think about my blog today).