This is the latest in a series of blogs by partners of the Fluency work.
By Anna Malone
Each of us has a story, an amalgamation of experiences spun together to create a unique lens that is undeniably our own. When one person takes the courage to open up, sharing their vulnerabilities and strengths, we grow collectively, deeply, and authentically. Learning about the life of another opens our worldview, challenges our thinking, and illuminates new pathways previously unreachable. This process can take place in our households, churches, and social circles as well as our classrooms if we as educators foster a conducive, safe environment.
In my first year as a Graduate Assistant (GA) in the Teacher Education Program at West Liberty University, I collaborated with Gabrielle Burriss, then also a GA for the Teacher Education Program, and Dr. Sarah Schimmel, Teacher Education Program Director, to redesign the undergraduate course Instructional Technology to better suit the needs of current pre-service teachers. We decided to introduce the students to video editing and reflection, two critical skills needed for the summative assessment during residency, and task them with creating a video that explains why they would like to become an educator.
In co-teaching this course, I was cordial to students, making small talk before class began, often about The Bachelor, of which we had a love hate relationship; however, I simply did not know them very well. What started as one assignment, a five-minute video, ended up teaching me more about these pre-service teachers than any conversation ever could.
While watching their videos, I was amazed by the authenticity, depth, and creativity on display by each individual; their voices were filled with passion, hope, and optimism as they spoke of the teachers who inspired them, becoming the role model they did not have, their volunteer experiences that turned into a career path, and more. One student discussed their transition from the military to civilian life as a parent, while another spoke of the positive impact of being adopted. Yet another student recounted experiences with the inequity and racial divide of school districts in their hometown.
I came to understand that each individual sitting in this class has a powerful voice. It was not my original intention; my objective was increasing exposure to filming, editing, and reflecting to prepare them for an assessment down the road. I am so thankful, however, that the results were much more significant because I learned a great deal about the importance of increasing student voice in the classroom that have left an indelible impression on my heart. Additionally, I am grateful to be a part of a group such as the Fluency Project cohort that fosters voice and inquiry amongst professionals and students.
Links to Example Videos:
Anna Malone is currently a second-year graduate student in the M.A.Ed. Reading Specialist program at West Liberty University. She also works as a Graduate Assistant in the Teacher Education Program at WLU and a substitute teacher with Ohio County Schools. Anna graduated from WLU with her Bachelor’s in Elementary Education with minors in special education and early childhood education in 2019. She is a member of Cohort 3 of The Data and Technology Fluency Project with West Liberty University and the CREATE Lab (situated in Carnegie Mellon University). Anna’s special interests including spending time with family and spoiling her niece and nephews.