Well, I waited to write this post because I felt I couldn't possibly know what would be important for us on Thursday without integrating what we've thought and talked about Sunday through Tuesday. And while it's not a complete shot in the dark, I'm still wondering, what exactly will be the right thing?

When we think about pedagogy, we typically turn our attention towards the teacher and teaching. What are the behaviors, attitudes and techniques that enable us to facilitate learning in our students? Some might ask more starkly, what do educators need to know and do to in order teach effectively? And sure, there are things to know and to practice that would/should/could help an individual teach others a thing - how to boil an egg, what to do in case of fire, what a library can be used for - but part of me always bristles a bit at the suggestion of teaching and learning as a formula. "Do this, this and this, like that, then like this, repeat, assess, get this." Inwardly, I'm thinking, "That's not how this works; that's now any of this works." That said, the impulse to search for exactly the right thing, as if that would solve everything, never leaves us entirely.

As we've explored digital identity so far, we've focused plenty on our individual experiences as professionals, as consumers and also as friends, family and community members. When we put pedagogy together with digital identity, we must hold the relational aspects of learning and teaching at the forefront of our thinking. And I hope to make the case for putting learners and learning first in our pedagogical process and considering the ways we help foster healthy and empowered (digital) identity development within our learning contexts. I am daring to suggest that we can serve individual needs better when we attend carefully to the communities we help learners create.

To bring this into a more practical realm, I want to offer a few different resources. I'm super excited that I had the chance to do a structured dialogue with Jessamyn Neuhaus, author of Geeky Pedagogy: A Guide for Intellectuals, Introverts, and Nerds Who Want to Be Effective Teachers (2019). In the video, you'll see and hear Jessamyn's responses and my responses are in audio format. The prompts were:

  • Tell me a frustration you have in enacting your your pedagogy.
  • Tell me something you wish people thought more about in their pedagogy.
  • Describe a pedagogical success.
  • Tell me a small miracle.

Here's the audio of my responses. (Start with volume low, then adjust.)

Feel free to try out those prompts with a partner, by the way!

Several folks write and speak compellingly about belonging and community in the classroom and I want to provide you a selection of voices that have influenced my thinking and who help us nurture our inspirations/aspirations which sometimes (often?) collide with the barriers embedded in and arising out of our teaching realities.

I could go on. Please pick one or two that call out to you. Add resources you'd recommend in our discussion space.


As I'm writing this, I am torn between a practical desire to be brief and a more philosophical tug to make sure I actually shoot my shot. (mounts soapbox)

It took me a long time to realize how at home I am in the pedagogical world. I love wondering about how and why we learn stuff at every lifestage. I keep thinking about school as both a vehicle and a frustration in the learning efforts we make. I'm asking myself about this process we're in right now: DPL online. How well have I been able to deliver on the promises I made in the course description and subsequent communications? Which needs have gone unnoticed and unspoken? What about us a learning community? What will we take with us that will sustain and bolster us for the next exhausting leg of our education ventures? Will we recover from the scattered nature of navigating multiple tabs at once? Who have we become in our time together?

This course has never been about learning outcomes you can stick in a folder or on your resume. Rather, it is and has been about listening as a pedagogy: Listening to each other, listening to ourselves and our experiences, listening explicitly to those who are not us, listening to the messages beneath the chatter, listening to our callings that brought us here. When we listen, it's pretty hard to go wrong. Our ears rarely get us into big trouble. I cannot go on about centering learners and learning without emphasizing the sheer power of listening - fully, deeply, generously. Listening is everything but passive. It's an act of care, restraint, humility and presence. It requires practice and in community we have to work to create the conditions for listening to flourish.

I don't know how well any of that worked through this particular set of communications we're calling a course but I'm hopeful. Why? Because of who you are, who you've shown yourselves to be in this short time frame. You are open, curious, helpful, engaged and engaging with me, and more importantly, with each other. It is my hope that we are practicing the pedagogy we hope to experience as learners; the pedagogy we look forward to sharing with many students to come.

Ok, thank you. I'm done now. (steps down from soapbox)

Some of you may be preparing something to share with us and I want to leave space for that today and tomorrow. Please let us know where you decide to share it, so we can all be sure to see it, hear it, appreciate it. (NB: We now have a public blog on SeeSaw that you can post to!)

If you're looking for a change of pace, here's a book I created for my students this spring. :-)

~ Read next post in Digital Identity, ~

Unfinished Symphony

Posted by Sherri Spelic

3 min read