Intentionality and Teaching (Blog 5)

Intentionality in Teaching: Face-to-Face and Online

One idea that really stood out to me this week (my “aha” moment, if you will) was how intentional every single part of teaching is. I’ve been thinking a lot of different classes I’ve taken throughout my life at all levels and reassessing the thought that went into them. Is a characteristic of good teaching and a good lesson that fact that the students don’t see the person behind curtain? On one hand, not seeing the work and thought that goes into teaching allows students to focus on learning. On the other hand, could experiencing good teaching and lessons make it seem that the process is easy and effortless, leading us to undervalue those who teach?

Returning back the idea of intentionality, one idea that has been central in our readings is the importance of setting objectives or goals for each teaching scenario. Whether you are working online or planning an online tutorial, figuring out the purpose for teaching and designing around that seems central.

In online instruction, starting with objectives helps keep your learning object focused and clear. I would imagine online tutorials take more upfront planning, because there are very few venues for gathering feedback on what is working and not working in teaching. Using objectives helps teachers design better objects, since they will not be present with the learner to identify and address any confusion.

Compared with online instruction, the advantage of in person instruction is the ability to gauge the responses of the class. Are they understanding? Did an explanation or activity work as intended? However, setting objectives is still central in planning and organizing the class and empowering teachers to change directions when something doesn’t work in the dynamic situation of a class.

Intentionality in Technology

Earlier this year, I was a volunteer technology coach for the 23 Mobile Things MN–a self-directed program on learning about mobile technologies for people in libraries. Having kept up with the blogs of 20-30 librarians going through the program, I definitely observed the wide ranges of ways that people approach new technologies that Booth discussed. People react very differently to new technologies, from those who can’t wait to jump on the bandwagon and try something to those who are less certain about the value of a new technology.

Booth suggested three strategies when approaching a new technology:

  1. Experience (try it out)
  2. Evaluate (assess strengths and weaknesses)
  3. Customize (think about how what you’ve learned could be used to support learning objectives) (pp. 64)

What I like about this approach is that it helps remove stumbling blocks for people on both extremes of the attitudes-toward-technology spectrum. Technophiles may have a tendency to jump into the experience and then skip ahead to using it, in the worst cases adding a new tool for technology’s sake without taking time to evaluate how said tool can support instruction. On the other hand, those who are less trustful of new technologies (technophobe always seems like a harsh word) may be more likely to skip over the experiencing the new technology in favor of evaluating the technology.

Again, it all comes down to intentionality. When it comes to new technologies (or old), we need to take the time to assess the tools, figure out how they might fit in what Booth calls our toolkit, identify which tools best fit a specific learning scenario, and then think carefully about how to structure them into our lessons.

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2 thoughts on “Intentionality and Teaching (Blog 5)

  1. You make a great point about Intentionality that definitely coincides with the flexibility theme I found in all of the readings. While as a younger student (like, high school) it was easy to just show up to class and absorb the knowledge. As a teacher, you can’t slip through any lesson without extremely intentional objectives and plans. Booth makes that very clear in regards to learning technology away from the classroom. I’m glad you pulled that idea out since it is so important.

  2. So, I subscribed to your blog LAST WEEK but I never got an email when you created a new post! What’s up with that! I’ll have to figure that out.

    I thought it was interesting when you talked about students not seeing the “Man behind the curtain.” I feel like, at least in college, I was very aware of the teachers who put forth effort and those who didn’t. Those who understood technologies and created good lesson plans were my favorite teachers because it seemed like they actually cared.

    I love what you said about people either being over-eager or under-eager about technologies–I’ve experienced librarians who fall into both camps. Intentionality and willingness to learn are so key, and deeply rooted in our profession.

    Imagine–folks who want to be librarians–i.e. a person who helps people learn–but doesn’t want to take time to learn themselves!

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