Reflecting back on my COETAIL experience, I was a little surprised to notice how far outside of my own comfort zone I was forced to go. For those of you who know me, this may come as a shock (most of my peers don’t think I have a comfort zone as I tend not to have a filter for my thoughts lol), but the truth is, the community engagement aspect of the course frightened and discomforted me and the reasons for this are as follows:
- What authority/credentials/right do I have to comment on another persons’ work, thoughts and opinions, especially in a public forum? These opinions will last forever in the digital sphere, so care and attention needs to be paid when thinking of tone and wording. These comments reflect who I am and what I think as an individual, and I need to be able to look back and not regret my stance (even if my perspective has evolved/changed since).
- As an educator I firmly believe in “teaching by doing” so I need to be particularly aware of the type of engagement and dialogue I am posting. My actions will be imitated by my students, so there is a pressure to be more cognizant of how and what I write. Even though my tone is conversational, informal and friendly, the content needs to be respectful, inclusive and polite.
- A main aspect of this course, and the curriculum we strive to teach, is how to be a good corporate citizen, and comments fall into a “grey area” for me. How do I know that something I write as a comment, will not be misconstrued by the reader as something negative? How can I avoid coming off aggressive or conceited or pompous?
All the above thoughts jumble my brain when I think about having to post a comment, and then something as simple as leaving my opinion on a blog becomes this overwhelmingly stressful course requirement.
It’s funny, because as I write this reflection, I am acutely aware that this is a really important fear to overcome. As a qualified educator, my opinion SHOULD and DOES matter, especially on the topic of academia. So while I acknowledge my discomfort for community engagement, I understand it’s need, how it can help me learn and grow as a teacher, as well as develop as an individual – someone who knows their thoughts have value, can be of interest and can even make a change.
I tell my students every day to try and do something that scares them, and I guess if I “teach by doing” I have to continue living by the same motto as well. COETAIL has helped me in this regard, and I need to ensure that I can continue to engage in positive dialogue after course completion.