Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Professor For A Day: My Experience at Rutgers University


Last Monday I had the opportunity to be a guest speaker/professor at Rutgers University with the amazing Chris Nesi of the House of EdTech Podcast. Chris and I met on Twitter last year and in person at one of his awesome ‘Stop Curating, Start Creating’ sessions at an EdCamp. Since then, Chris and I talk daily about our shared passion for inspiring positivity and collaboration in education. When he invited me to come into his Leadership in Digital Contexts class, I was absolutely thrilled about the opportunity!

Recently, I have been thinking about what is next for me - I have entertained the idea of teaching at the college level, which got me thinking about the differences and similarities between the college and high school settings. I am drawn to the potential for elevated conversation and meaningful application to a career field that comes with teaching at the college level. My experience at Rutgers certainly did not disappoint! The class was comprised of college sophomores, juniors, and seniors working towards a minor in Digital Leadership. Our conversations touched on many different topics and then steered back to the main topic of establishing a positive digital presence and connecting with others in a professional capacity. We debated the pros and cons of Blab.im, LinkedIn.com, and even their course curriculum. One of the coolest parts was using Periscope to broadcast part of the conversation! It was great to show students the power of social media, as we had up to 60 viewers and lots of audience participation.  
In reflecting on my experience, I found that there will always be students in class - regardless of atmosphere - who simply just get it. Students (like me) that are eager to participate, criticize, and reflect. Then there are those students who will be on the opposite spectrum - Disengaged and disinterested, to be put it bluntly. It is those students that motivate me to continue teaching. I strive to connect with those students who struggle to understand or relate to content and skills by bridging gaps and finding meaningful ways to make those students a part of the classroom conversation and culture. At the college level, I was able to do this in a light hearted and fun that my 9th grade Special Education Social Studies classes do not generally allow.
Overall, I was so impressed with the ability of the students to rationalize and justify their opinions and relate the information back to their specific fields of career interest. The most rewarding part of the class was the genuine connections I made with the students. There were two students in particular who stayed after class to chat and ask questions. Knowing that these students were inspired and excited to take action and implement ideas we had discussed in class truly inspired me.

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