Episode Transcript
Ixchell Reyes
The DIESOL podcast

Brent Warner
Digital Integration in English as a Second or Other Language.

Ixchell Reyes
Episode 35 Humanizing Online Education with Dayamudra Dennehy.

Brent Warner
Hello, and welcome to DIESOL. This is Episode 35, we are your hosts. I am Brent Warner.

Ixchell Reyes
And I’m Ixchell Reyes.

Brent Warner
I hope everything is going well for you.

Ixchell Reyes
Yeah, by the time y’all are listening, I will be finishing a trip to Colombia, teaching in Colombia.

Brent Warner
That’s exciting.

Ixchell Reyes
That’s exciting, Yeah.

Brent Warner
There you go. Well, I guess when you come back to the March episode, we’ll have to hear a little bit about it, right?

Ixchell Reyes
Right. Right. Right. Right.

Brent Warner
Awesome. So today, we are getting into things we’re getting into a cool topic that I’m pretty excited about. So I think we should just jump right in and bring Daya on with us.

Ixchell Reyes
Today we’re speaking with one of our colleagues and friends, Dayamudra Dennehy. Daya. Welcome. Welcome to the show.

Dayamudra Dennehy
Thank you. I’m so happy to be here.

Ixchell Reyes
And Daya is an ESL instructor at City College, San Francisco and a founder creative director of her own nonprofit which started a school in India 13 years ago. She’s been practicing online teaching for five years, and is trained by the California Community Colleges at one, which is the online network of educators. She also teaches yoga and meditation and is ordained as a Buddhist and her name in Sanskrit. Her name Daya. mudra is Sanskrit. And it means gesture of compassion. So

Brent Warner
Oooh, just hearing about it makes me feel good!

Ixchell Reyes
The person you want to have around you during a pandemic. So, so yeah, welcome to the show, Daya.

Dayamudra Dennehy
Thank you, I’m so happy to be here. And of course, I’m a big fan of the DIESOL podcast, I’ve got your sticker on my laptop and all my swag.

Brent Warner
We’re excited. I mean, we’ve had your voice might be familiar to a few hardcore listeners who have listened to some of the Drinks with DIESOL you’ve, you’ve jumped on with us there. But we are really happy to have you talking about kind of your area of expertise here today, which you post cool – just great information on. And you know, you started posting things a little a few days ago about like this semester. And just like what you’re doing. And so we really wanted to get a chance to talk to you about that and share out kind of what you’re doing and hopefully help some teachers see, see what they can do online too.

Dayamudra Dennehy
Yeah, you know, it’s funny I’ve been teaching for, I think this will be my 30th year of teaching. But I’ve been teaching online for five years. So for me, I’m really pivoting and it’s been great. I think even when I am teaching face to face, my online teaching has helped me sort of pivot and restructure the way I’m designing my classes.

Brent Warner
That’s Yeah, I think there’s gonna be a lot of that when when teachers, you know, I mean, when we go to back to classes and things, I think there’s going to be a lot of recognition of ways that we can make changes even together with other people.

Dayamudra Dennehy
That’s right.

Ixchell Reyes
So I actually just wanted to say out there to everyone who’s listening, I actually met Daya through another one of our guests, and friend and colleague, Denise medu, Lee Williams, who we had last year at the beginning of the pandemic. And we met, basically, we met through Twitter, through social media, and then we actually got to meet in person at a karate soul conference. So never ever, ever underestimate how powerful social media platforms can be in terms of supporting you with PD and getting to know people that that are experts in so many areas that your organization may not have access to. So I’m really excited to have you here.

Dayamudra Dennehy
Yeah, I’m remembering us meeting in that hotel lobby, and sitting by the pool with drinks. So maybe someday we’ll be back at conferences again.

Brent Warner
At least we’ll have drinks again, for sure.

Dayamudra Dennehy
At least drinks.

Brent Warner
So Daya one of the things that you’re, you’re posting about was this idea of a liquid syllabus. And I think that a lot of teachers are starting to kind of hear or think about this, where it’s a, and you’ll get into depth with it, but maybe giving some more control over the class rules and the class expectations to the students where traditionally maybe teachers have really held on to that it’s like you follow my rules and you know, authoritarian style, like Watch out, or you’re gonna get the switch type of thing. And and now, I think that people are starting to see this openness to like, hey, if we build a community, and we all trust each other, maybe things will be a little different. But I you know, I am really interested in this whole idea of what’s what is a liquid syllabus? What does it do? How does it work? Like, how can we get going with this?

Dayamudra Dennehy
Yeah, well, I’m really having fun with the liquids syllabus. I learned about it through one of my teachers, Michelle Pacansky-Brock, who does trainings throughout one for California Community College teachers, and then Fabiola Torres, who is a real leader in equity. And then Denise, who Ixchell mentioned before, and the idea is to create a syllabus that’s on Google Sites. So it’s off the LMS. And it gives students a chance to see what the class is about before they’re actually in the class. So what I like about it is that I can post it, give students a link, and then they can see sort of the learning community that we’re building. So rather than a list of rules, and rather than it being on paper and finished, it’s on a Google site, and part of the equity focus is creating something that’s inviting and warm and colorful, and something that sets the tone before the class even begins. And so what I have on mine is here’s a description of the class from the course catalog, and this is how I envisioned the class going. But also what I really liked about it is I have my teaching philosophy. I have what our policy for inclusive learning I have different things like that. So the students know how I envision things being. And it’s also just a really friendly tone of I’m so happy that you’re here. I’m here to support you. So that right from the beginning, before the students even start the class, they feel welcomed invited, like, it’s their class. And I try to set mine up with a particular brand, I go on Canva. And I pick, you know, something that I can repeat throughout it. So it has a visual code has a color palette, and the students get excited before they even go into the class. And they sort of know what my intention is.

Ixchell Reyes
So do one of the things that you did is you shared your liquid syllabus with us before the show, and I did go on there to look at it. And your mesh, you mentioned that you you you take very special care in designing the website. And that’s one of the things I noticed right away, it’s, it’s got this beautiful pattern it’s pleasing to look at. It’s the sections are well laid out. So how does this impact? How do you find the students react to it, or you see this, as opposed to the, you know, the typical PDF paper syllabus?

Dayamudra Dennehy
Well, it’s interesting. I mean, I think for one thing, the students, you know, this generation of students is very visual, very digital. And so I think they respond to the students or the teacher, maybe who’s a different generation, sort of meeting them where they are, in terms of presenting something that’s in a digital format that’s colorful, that’s warm and inviting. So I think that it’s sort of a different language in a way, like a visual language. And I find that the students come in really sort of understanding what we’re doing together. Whereas when I would just sort of go to class with a stack of paper syllabi, and I would hand them out, you know, it took a while to get the momentum of the class. But the students come in now, with some preparation, and they really understand who I am, I make a little video about myself using Adobe Spark video. And I have pictures of myself there. So they know what I look like. They see my philosophy, they see how the 18 weeks of the course are laid out, they see my grading policy. So there isn’t this sort of trepidation, they really sort of know what we’re going to be doing together and why. And I think that’s, I think, as teachers, it’s really important, like this, you know, this semester, I’ve been asking my students, why are you here? You know, what do you want? How are you going to get there? So this sort of metacognition sort of starting that, from the beginning, taking a big view? Why are we coming together? Why are you taking this class? What are we going to do together?

Brent Warner
Yeah, there’s a lot to kind of, you know, I think those kind of questions are, are ones that maybe students aren’t asked very often, right? I’d be interested, what kind of responses are you getting?

Dayamudra Dennehy
Really positive, you know, the students come in, and they’re like, Oh, I saw the pictures of your cats, or I know that, like, the other day of students stayed for office hours and said, You know, I would look through the liquid syllabus, and I understand that you teach meditation, how can I get started on meditation, I have a really stressful life. So we’re sort of making these connections, a more human connection. And, you know, for me, I’m not just the teacher, I’m also a human being, and they can see the things that I’m interested in, and, you know, I have this weird name, and they don’t really understand why. So I’m able to tell them that before they even come to class, like, and then that gives them a sense of my value system, my sense of ethics, you know, why I’m doing what I’m doing. And I spend a month every year in India leading my school. And so that gives them a sense, also of how I spend my time and the things that, that I’ve developed in my own life outside of my teaching at this school.

Brent Warner
I think that’s super important. You know, we talked about this idea of like, you know, showing who you are, right showing, showing that you’re actually a person, and we have faults and failures as teachers too, right? Like, things aren’t always perfect. But I have found and this is one thing that I kind of bring up a lot is, the more that I kind of show that stuff or have different levels of vulnerability, or, you know, in my case, we experiment with a lot of technology and we, we talked about this on the on this show a lot is like, Hey, we’re gonna experiment there, things are not gonna go well, they’re gonna be problems, but showing that it’s also okay to have things problematic and have things you know, like, Hey, we’re going into this with a goal, kind of an experimental goal or open mindedness to it. That to me really has changed the way that I interact with students. The earlier I start that, especially day one, it makes a big difference for me.

Dayamudra Dennehy
Yeah, and I think for me too, in terms of equity, you know, and in terms of really wanting students success, of really putting that out there right at the beginning, I care about you, I love what I’m doing, I want you to succeed, I’m here to support you. And I don’t think that we always give students those messages. And so I think to have it really written down and presented in a very colorful, inviting way, students come in feeling supported before the first lesson.

Ixchell Reyes
Right, and, you know, with this pandemic, and having to teach, I know that you you teach online, but first, for and I know that you’re right now also doing emergency online teaching, but it is so important to keep the aspect of the students as also having a life and having issues that are affecting them. And also that we might have a family at home, that’s, we’ve got to take care of while we’re teaching. And so connecting with them and and letting them know that we understand that this is a difficult time to be learning a language or learning anything and teaching. And I see that spelled out very clearly throughout your syllabus. And, you know, if I were a student in your class, I would also feel I would feel welcome, I wouldn’t feel scared, I wouldn’t feel you know, it lowers the student’s affective filter, because they know that there’s someone who’s welcoming them with open arms. So I guess I’m wondering, you know, the syllabus is one of the things that teachers or the expectations, that is one of the things that teachers take great care of, during the first set the first days of school in order to set the tone, but how can we continue fostering this sense of community as the semester or our term? continues?

Dayamudra Dennehy
Yeah, I think that’s really important. I think, you know, this idea of metacognition, you know, really asking students over and over, what are we doing? How are you doing? What support Do you need, you know, really sort of having that be a two way communication? And I teach? Yeah, both the remote classes and the fully online. So keeping that channel of communication open, is so important. So I think that’s one thing. Yeah, I mean, I think, you know, there’s just really good if you think of doretta Hammonds work on neuroscience, you know, like the neuroscience of culturally responsive teaching, that when you create that space that tells students I care about you. And also, you’re also trying to get them in that zone of proximal development, right. So that you’re, it’s not too hard. And it’s not too easy. I think a lot of times in our profession, we can think if I show my students I care about them, then I’m babying them, it’s too soft, it’s too easy. But actually, that’s not true, you know, sort of in that middle space, where, you know, you’re pushing students, and you’re doing it very gently, and you’re also giving them support, but they, in a way, it gives them the agency, you know, it gives them agency to take control over their own learning. So I think opportunities throughout the semester to pause, and for students to reflect with each other and individually, is, is important. I think one thing about online is the students now can communicate with each other in a way that they couldn’t, in a face to face class. Like they’re able to post things on discussion forums, and then other people are able to read them and reflect and respond. So it gives students enough time to really communicate what they want to say and then respond to each other. And so I think that’s also a really fun aspect of online learning is the sort of community building through the tools that we’re using.

Brent Warner
Yeah, I agree. I think there’s, there’s this whole thing. And we might have mentioned this a little bit in the past, too, but this idea, so you know, my son’s in college, and he says, Every class he goes into, there’s someone just immediately throws out a discord link. And then they have their own channel for back channel communication amongst students. And he says every single class he goes to so like, there’s like, I don’t know, if it’s a if it’s a process at his school only or if more people are starting to do it, but I did have one of my own students last semester said, Oh, yeah, I’ve got my Discord. Here it is and shared it out as well. The cool thing about that is that that opens them up to 24 hour communication with each other, right? What’s going on? What can I build? What can I do with this, right? And that can be facilitated by the teachers, right? The teacher can say, hey, here it is. And in fact, I think when we had a when Alicia, she, she said, she said the same thing, right? That she would open it, and then she would leave. And so the students would have their own kind of private place to do to do the same type of thing. So So there’s all sorts of different possibilities here for students. But one of the things I want to kind of talk about here is you mentioned that moving through the semester things change, right? And so the dynamics of the class might change a little bit How can your you know? How can your syllabus or how can your, your approach accommodate changes that might need to happen? especially online? Right? Like I think it’s, it’s, it’s a different thing. When we’re online, we say, Well hold on a second, all the things we’re doing are not quite working, how do we make these changes so that we can get back on track with our goals, but also kind of, you know, re establish this community or make sure that we’re, we’re all on the same page together? Yeah,

Dayamudra Dennehy
I mean, I like to do surveys on a regular basis and asks those kinds of questions, you know, like, is this class meeting your needs? You know, and are these these approaches these assignments? are they helping you and the students when you’re, when they’re asked that they really have good ideas, it’s interesting how I think sometimes we don’t trust that. But they might even say, I want more work, you know, which might be surprising, right? Or I want more opportunities to collaborate with my classmates, that one really surprised me. Or I want, I don’t know different things, like they want things presented in different ways. We want more videos, we want different kinds of feedback, whatever it is. And I think as the class develops, trust, you know, they’re, they’re actually willing to take more risks, they’re willing to try things that might be different. I bring in a lot of external tools into my online class at the beginning, students might be resistant, but then they get to really like that. And so you know, they want to use those tools, even more things like, I don’t know, jam board, or what are some of the other ones that I use? Just, you know, Adobe Spark pages? or What else? Yeah, different things.

Ixchell Reyes
I saw you You had the Adobe Spark page that a beautiful layout as well, for portfolios.

Dayamudra Dennehy
Yeah,

Ixchell Reyes
yeah. And that’s something that, you know, it’s pretty, fairly student friendly. It’s not something that they have to, you know, spend hours learning how to use. So. So I’m wondering how so all of this, you know, we’re giving students choice and designing what they’re learning and we’re giving them other we’re giving them different avenues so that they have equitable access? How can teachers move away from punitive approaches, especially now with online learning, but you know, giving students agency and giving them way more choice than we are used to, you know, we’re sometimes stuck to being that controlling micromanager. Yeah, so how can teachers move away from those punitive approaches?

Dayamudra Dennehy
I think this is this is a question that should be guiding everything that we’re doing right now. You know, I think one of the things that I did in that course that I took with Fabiola Torres, she asked us to look at our first day handout. And so I did this five years ago, and I realized I was so ashamed to like, I had written it as a young teacher, and it was very punitive. And you must do this, and you must not do that. And you’re going to be dropped from the class. And I think, you know, when I started teaching fairly young, so I wanted to be taken seriously. And then I thought, what if I loosen that a little bit and just said, this is, this is what I imagine? And this is why some of these things are dictated by college policy. But really, I want you to stay in communication with me. And so, I mean, generally, I think students want structure, you know, they want to know, and then most students are going to do what you tell them, and then others won’t. And there’s, I think, for me, I just, I’m not interested in controlling students, you know, like, they’re going to make their choices. So I think it’s a shift in mindset of this is what we’re doing together, you can you make the right choices for you, and this choice will lead to this outcome. And then if if there are things that get in the way, let’s communicate about that. So I think it’s really a shift in, in mindset. I mean, I do find some of my colleagues very punitive for it. I was in a meeting just last week, where a teacher was saying, I forced my students to have cameras on, she did give these tutoring sessions and when they’re not there, or their workshops, these workshops, if they’re not there, I don’t know what they’re doing. So I just kicked them off the call. And she was very proud of that. And I thought, wow, I trust that my students are there. And if they’re not there, I don’t I mean, I can’t control them. I don’t you know, like, they’re adults, they decided to take my class and I’m trying to be engaging, and I know that they’re there. So I think in a way, it’s, what are we what are we creating? Is it meaningful to students? Is it creative? Is it engaging? I think for me, that’s really the guiding question. This summer.

Ixchell Reyes
Oh, go ahead, Brent.

Brent Warner
This camera on off thing is such a big conversation these days, you know, like everybody’s trying to figure out how to deal with it. And I think you posted just recently, maybe even today or yesterday, something about like, hey, let’s talk, let’s not have me make the decision. Let’s talk with the students about it. So can you talk about what you did with your students specifically, like, what was that conversation like? And what were their responses? And how did you? How did you deal with it?

Dayamudra Dennehy
Well, it was reminded me of, I think, five years ago, the whole thing was like, students have cell phones in their classroom, put the phones away, turn your phone off. I don’t want to hear phone’s buzzing in my class. Right. So that was the conversation five years ago. And now it’s the whole thing is cameras on cameras off. And so I’m teaching a public speaking class. And it would be nice to see the students. And so you know, I started the class today, and I was looking at 18 blank, like black squares. And actually, I don’t mind that. But I said, I just want to talk at the beginning of class about cameras. And, you know, I understand why you have your camera on, I understand why you have your camera off. For me, it will help us build community if we can see each other. And if you’re going to be in a speaking class, you know, I’d like to be able to see your face. So I kind of talked about what I thought. And I said also, I know that your house might be messy, there might be other people there. You might not even be home, you might be at work. What do you think? And it was interesting one students she had her camera on, and she said, I feel really lonely when nobody else has their camera on. And so she got to the emotion of it right away. And I thought, Oh, that’s really interesting. Does anybody else have anything to say? And someone else will I like to have my camera off while I’m listening. But I’ll turn it on in the breakout room when I’m talking. And so we talked about different things. And it was interesting. We didn’t really come to any conclusion. But throughout the class, I saw cameras coming on.

Brent Warner
This is like the crescendo of music comes up and everybody.

Dayamudra Dennehy
Yeah, yeah. I mean, it’s funny, because I think about myself, you know, as teachers, a lot of times we have these strict policies, which we don’t follow ourselves when we’re in faculty meetings. So if I’m in a meeting, and somebody is like, talking for the whole meeting, why should I have my camera on? Really, you know, I have a nice picture there. I like to get up and walk around, I’m listening, I’m paying attention. So I understand, like wanting to have your camera off. And also, you know, we’re trying to build community. And I think students are getting used to each other. I think sometimes we forget that, like the impact that we have, right? So. Yeah, there is an impact of not having your camera on. But I think I really want to do more of an invitation rather than a rule. And you know, Denise and I were just talking today about these peloton instructors, you know, that are really crushing it with their online exercise classes. And they’ve been trained, and they can’t see anybody in their exercise class, but they have a very engaging way of making everyone feel part of a learning community, keeping them motivated. She was telling me about one instructor that teaches I think it’s like a hip hop step class or something. And he said, Oh, if you learn the move, post a video to our Instagram page, you know, so these really interesting ways. And so I think, let’s look to them. I take an online yoga class, and I love it and I take an online Bhangra dance class. And I keep my camera off. I don’t want people to see my messy house doesn’t matter and I really feel like I’m part of that dance community, part of that yoga community.

Brent Warner
People love their peloton stuff my colleagues I’ve got like, they’re like, it’s like, they’ve gone into like a cold somehow, like, there’s like a whole thing around it. So yeah, I think that’s a great idea is like take taking the application of how they’re interacting with people. Right and, and my understanding I don’t I don’t have a peloton, but my understanding is there’s all different personalities, so it’s not like you have to be, you know, Mr. bubbly, happy all the time, right? There’s like jokers, and there’s sarcastic people and like all sorts of different types, right. And so, so I think people can tie their personalities into things even without, you know, without falling into some false expectation of who you’re supposed to be.

Dayamudra Dennehy
I think that’s important too. And I think as online as we learn to teach online, you know, we’re gonna find our groove like Who am I is an online teacher. And it doesn’t have to be you don’t have to be a drill sergeant. You know, you can bring yourself and create an inviting environment.

Ixchell Reyes
I love the idea that you say, you prefer for it to be an invitation rather than something that’s dictated because this just reminds me of I Heard colleagues say that, you know, if a student falls asleep in class, they’ll take a textbook and slam it on their desk. And, and I’m appalled by it every time I hear it. But that just highlights the inability for that instructor to be concerned about why that student maybe is perhaps sleepy, it’s the immediate assumption is negative. And so oftentimes, you know, someone tends to want to control much more than they actually can, you can’t really control whether someone’s sleepy or not. Right. And we know that that kind of behavior modification is not even, it doesn’t last very long. Yeah, student will just learn to be intimidated. And that’s going to be short term, but then did you actually help that student become internally motivated or to be awake? So having something like this be an invitation? You get to be a part of it, right? It’s not, it’s my way. And,

Dayamudra Dennehy
yeah

Ixchell Reyes
Don’t do it my way, then we’ll embarrass you or shame you…

Dayamudra Dennehy
Well, I think this is why professional learning communities are so important. Because, you know, of course, we get frustrated, I get frustrated, I get angry, I get hurt, you know, like, if someone falls asleep in my class, I’m like, Oh, my God, you know, like, my tendencies, like, I must be so boring. Or, you know, I think a lot of teachers will be like, ah, they’re disrespecting me. You know, I think I don’t know, there’s just this kind of interesting response. And I think let’s, what is what is it about you that’s having that response? You know, and how can you respond? I mean, one of the things that I did, in the middle of the pandemic was just start to post every week resources that I was finding, you know, places where people could get food, places where they could bring their, you know, go to get mental health support for their children, things like that. So I think this is part of being responsive. You know, I think some people might think, well, that’s not my job. And I think, no, it’s not your job. But it is part of building a learning community. And I think right now, there’s so much going on for students. So to give them resources, I’m not a therapist, but there are people who are trained as therapists, and you could talk to them, you know, if you’re hungry, I don’t want you to be hungry in my class, and I, you know, I can’t come to your house and bring you groceries, but you can go and get food here. So I think I think that’s been a really big part of developing the online community. I mean, I think I think I’m still grieving from last year, the middle of the semester, a year ago, we didn’t have we had three days to switch from face to face, to online, and I felt really happy that I had developed a trusting community. And I just said to students, I don’t really know what I’m doing. But we’re gonna figure it out together. And they were with me on that, because we had already built that trust. So that kind of goes back to Brent’s question of how can you keep building and, you know, you never know, you might need to, like leave campus and teach from your living room for the rest of the semester.

Brent Warner
Yeah, I was thinking about so kind of tying back to these like, we’re saying, Well, our students might be sleeping or you know, and, and the reaction, we can control the you know, the the, the old advice, you can control yourself, you can’t control the other people, right. And I always think of my colleague, Jeff Wilson, he tells a story about you know, he was frustrated, this student kept falling asleep, this is back in person, but he student kept falling asleep in class. And he’s like, come on, man. Come on, man. And then finally, one day, he’s just like, you know, what, he went during the break, went out to the coffee cart, bought two coffees brought one back to the student and said, Hey, man, like, you’re struggling, like, at least try let’s try and stay awake with this or something. And then after the student is like the student, he said, the student just felt seen and never fell asleep in class again. Yeah, he never was like, it was like, Oh, you’re recognizing that I’m here. And it’s not just like, trying to nail me down. But you know, and so, and I think we can do that online too, right? We can, we can find ways to see our students and even when their cameras are off, or whatever it is, right? We can pull. I like the idea of doing surveys early in the semester, like learning about them and their hobbies. Because then you can say, like, Hey, you like LeBron James? Like, tell me about LeBron James in this right? or whatever it is, right? And so trying to, to, you know, use some of the information and then they forget that they told you those things, too, right. They’re like, How do you know?

Dayamudra Dennehy
Yeah, I get the names of all their kids because you know, everybody’s got kids at home, and sometimes you’ll see them in the background. So say, hey, Katie, I see you and the students like really, I always have before my zoom class, I opened the call 15 minutes early, and I’ll have like some kind of video and some music playing and so last, I always change it last semester, it was like snow falling or a fire in the fireplace and there’s I’ve got like a running River. And then I’ve got music that makes Is it and, you know, that could see the students kids in there like, watching. So I just, I think that’s the other thing now our learning community is extended, you know, their spouses, their children, their, you know, there’s a lot more people there. That is part of the class. And I think we need to be flexible and inviting with that and not like get those kids out of my classroom, you know that, that that’s the reality. And it’s not easy. It’s not easy for the moms who are cooking three meals a day and trying to study online and help their kids and the dads to with their homework. So I think also just having some empathy can just be a real emotional support for those students.

Ixchell Reyes
diary, this is reminding me of a story early on when we went to teaching from home. And we were still sort of, I mean, we’re still figuring things out. But we were figuring things out back then. And I had a student who was constantly turning off his camera, and I didn’t have any kind of I didn’t we didn’t talk about cameras, because for me, it’s you have it on great, you have it off. That’s pretty too. But he was so he kept apologizing and apologizing. I said, That’s not a problem. And it turned out, you know, after I talked to him separately, he he had a newborn at home and diapers were out there, he couldn’t find diapers anywhere. So you’d have, he would have to go to the grocery store at 4am to get in line to go find the diapers. So he was sleepy, and he was, you know, trying to do all of these things. And and I would tell him, don’t the deadline, you do it on your own time it does, you know, let me know. And again, what what good would it have done? For him to have to do something under so much stress because of a deadline? Right? Yeah, there are bigger things out there. And and he thought his work done. And he knew when he wasn’t, you know, he just needed that time to take care of his family? Because otherwise, he’s not gonna learn the language if he’s under so much pressure.

Dayamudra Dennehy
Yeah, yeah. And having I love that you had that empathetic response, rather than trying to shame the student? Right? I don’t know, I don’t think that shaming our students into doing what we want is useful for anybody.

Brent Warner
Yeah, there’s a, there’s kind of a lot to talk about here. And I think this, this is kind of a continual growth process for us as teachers, right? You know, like, we hear these ideas. So I’ve heard some of these things for, you know, like, going back, and I’m like, trying to implement little bits by little fits, you know, and you’re like, Okay, it’s hard for me to let go of this idea, right. But, but eventually, most of the time, I find that when I ultimately do let go of something, so you know, tardy policy, or whatever it is, right? It doesn’t change very much like, you know, the students who are going to be tardy here are still going to be tardy, and the ones who do aren’t aren’t going to be tardy, you know, like, there’s not a lot that like the punitive side of things gets value from, but I guess I owe the end, this might be a little early in this semester to ask, but are you starting to see things that you’re going like, oh, next time, I’m going to change these or, you know, in the future, I want to kind of try this or what, what are your kind of upcoming ideas?

Dayamudra Dennehy
Well, I’m really loving this project based learning and having students document their reflections. And, you know, about two years, two or three years ago, I started having them do these digital portfolios, and I would have them do it the last few weeks of class, but now, I’m starting them at the first week or the second week, just setting up like an Adobe Spark page, and then just adding throughout the semester, things that they’re learning samples of their work, and, and then we do a gallery walk at the end, or the students post it so they can all sort of sees other’s work. And then they present it to each other. And then they have a document of everything that they’ve done for 18 weeks to take them to the next class, to show their parents to show their kids to show an employer. And so I’m really interested in this, I want to keep developing this idea of a digital portfolio. The way that I’m doing it is quite basic. And I’ve taken the student learning outcomes from our course outline, and sort of organized it that way, so that they can sort of show how they’ve met these course outlines. And, you know, I have it be a, you know, sort of, they get points throughout the semester for it, and then they get big points at the end. But, you know, I think there’s even a lot more I could do with it, where the students even doing their own grading of their work, you know, like, Did you meet the assignment requirements for the portfolio and whatever and giving each other feedback. And so, that seems like a success. And that’s something you know, I’d love to just replace final exams with digital portfolios because it’s the real proof of their learning.

Ixchell Reyes
I love I love digital portfolio. I’ve been a fan for a while, and I face to face, I do the same thing, I’d have them start what you’re doing start from the beginning, because oftentimes students will either panic at the end when they have to put everything together that last week, and then they don’t really know where it’s going. And then you know, the teachers only gonna look at it once and then what? Right. So it’s basically a little checkbox that they that they have, but if they’re adding to it on an ongoing basis, and the students are also able to see how much they’ve accomplished, and they’re able to see a measure of their work. And that I think that that’s far more valuable, because oftentimes, students might say, I don’t really know how much I’ve been learning. I don’t know, I don’t, I don’t, I can’t measure or I don’t know how, but they’re learning. And so I think, Brad, this, I think digital portfolios is gonna have to be an episode of its own, because I think there’s so much to talk about there. Absolutely, yeah.

Dayamudra Dennehy
And they do say, with, like, building a habit was listening to a program on that, that you need, sort of incremental successes, you know, that you can’t like, it’s like for weight loss, you can’t be told, like, oh, you’re going to lose 50 pounds, by the end of the year, it has to be like two pounds, every two weeks or something like that. That’s what’s going to keep you going. But there’s long term goal is not going to really motivate you. So I think it’s the same with learning of like, oh, look what you mastered in this three week period. And then also, if you’re doing it ongoingly, they can go in and edit it, you know, so then it actually is their finest work at the end of the semester. Rather than what I used to have in the studio. At the end, I wouldn’t look back and think, oh, gosh, there’s actually a lot of errors in here. And I, you know, I didn’t give them enough time to really Polish their final product.

Brent Warner
I think the technology, you know, that’s one of the beautiful things about the technology is like you can just edit and fix and edit endlessly right? where it’s like, you turn in that paper. And it’s like, that’s it, that’s, you know, that’s the one and you’re not gonna go back and change that. I mean, you could print it out again, I guess, but like, but with it with digital stuff, you can rerecord you can retype you can go live, you know, there’s so much to that, that really helps. You know, students can see that they are able to make changes and not feel bad about one little thing where they, you know, might have in the past kind of dwelt on it a little too much.

Dayamudra Dennehy
Right. And that’s a 21st century skill, right? They, if you’re writing a book, you don’t just hand in the book, and then they publish it, you know, you work together with an editor, and then they send comments back and you fix things, and you have meetings. And so that’s that whole collaborative process of editing something to a final product is a 21st century skill. So we’re training them where the real world in that process mean, your boss isn’t going to give you a final exam, or your raise, right? Like that’s not the way that the 21st century workplace works anymore.

Brent Warner
Awesome, there’s so much here. I really think that this conversation is great. And I think it’s one that’s good to reflect on and come back to every once in a while. And so I think what we’ll hold it for here, but but as we kind of grow ourselves as teachers and help our students grow in their learning objectives and their their processes. I hope we come back to this more.

Ixchell Reyes
All right, well, we don’t have any iTunes reviews this time around. But hopefully in 2021, we’ll get a few ION. So if you’re out there.

Brent Warner
Yeah! We want some 2021 FRESH reviews! Something fresh update your old ones. That’s fine, too!.

Ixchell Reyes
Yeah, let us know if you’re interested in other – what topics you’re interested in. We might have it on the show. But now it’s time for our fun finds. And this is a part of the show where we share something that we are, that’s bringing us joy, it doesn’t have to be technology related. And my fun find that this time around is whiteboard chat. This is whiteboard.chat. And a couple episodes ago, I chose whiteboard.fi.

Brent Warner
So you just did a whiteboard one, right?

Ixchell Reyes
Yeah. And this one is like, so this one doesn’t require… it’s digital whiteboards, creates notebooks for your students, but it’s like whiteboard.fi, but like on steroids, because you can do all sorts of things. You can pop out dice, you can add bingo cards, you can have the students work together on one board. But separately, so you can you can even do a call a video call through it and it’s absolutely free. So it is a really, really, really worth checking out. It’s a little slow sometimes because things are loading, but it works very well. So awesome. That’s Whiteboard Chat.

Brent Warner
Cool. So mine is super nerdy. I’m just gonna just kind of set it up front nerd alert coming in. I don’t know if you know this, I don’t even know if I’ve mentioned this on the show. But over the last couple years with some of my colleagues, I was invited to start playing Dungeons and Dragons. And I’d never done it before. And yeah, I get that it’s nerdy. But it’s also amazing. And it’s really like storytelling, and, you know, collaboration and all sorts of things. But anyways, as you all know, probably if the one thing you maybe know about Dungeons and Dragons is there’s tons of dice, tons of die, you know, like, you roll the dice, and you get all these different things. But I play here, now we’re sitting in front of the computer with my, my teammates, or whatever. And I kept losing my die and rolling them under. So I got a dice tray that you put it in, and you can roll the dice in here, and I don’t lose them. And it’s really nice leather, and like kind of wrapped with some suede-ish type of thing. But it was really, really cheap to online. So it’s like $6, or something, six, six, or $8, or something like that. So this is like, making me a lot happier. Just in not losing the dice and crawling underneath the table to find something and bumping my head.

Dayamudra Dennehy
Oh, funny. Mine is kind of related to Ixchell, but more the in real life version, I actually got a whiteboard. And it’s a, it’s actually much more giant than I expected. I got it from the stand up desk company. And I was originally I bought it as setting up my little home office in my tiny one bedroom apartment. And I got it, because I imagined that I would be teaching my students using the whiteboard, but it’s become a space where I can, you know, write out my ideas put my to do list different things. So I’m really enjoying my whiteboard. Now I don’t have a million posters all over the house, I’ve got everything in one place like my dentist appointment

Brent Warner
Oh, so this is part of your daily life, too? Not just for teaching, it’s for everything.

Dayamudra Dennehy
It’s for everything. I use different color markers. And there’s something about putting it up on the board. I think I actually missed that from the classroom. I love writing on the whiteboards, and I’ve got my own, but it really helps me organize my life. I’m doing a doctoral dissertation. And so I have ideas up there for my dissertation as well. So I really love my giant whiteboard.

Ixchell Reyes
Thank you so much for listening to the show. If you’re listening, you could win a one of a kind DIESOL pin by leaving us a review on Apple podcasts. And if you’re giving us a shout out any other way, tag us on social media, Daya, you’re getting one because we give one to our guests. So we’ll we’ll send that off to you.

Brent Warner
Thank you. Awesome. We also have the Patreon we’ve been exploring and playing around with that a little bit. So we did our first we did the first exploration of a tool and whether we ever got it, we’ll have our second one done by this time, I guess. So if you’re interested. If you can support the show you don’t you know, it’s all free. Don’t worry about it. But if you can support the show, then that’s a way to do it. So we’re over at patreon.com/DIESOLpod I think or anyways, you can find it on the website. For show notes and other episodes, please go check out DIESOL.org You can find this episode DIESOL.org/35. And, of course, if you’re if you have the voicEd.ca app or if you want to go on to that site, you can find us on there as well. We are on Twitter. You can find the show at @DIESOLpod and you can find me @BrentGWarner.

Ixchell Reyes
You can find me Ixchell at @Ixy_Pixy, that’s I x y underscore p i x y and Daya, where can – what’s the best place for our listeners to find you?

Unknown Speaker
I’m on Twitter at @sfDaya. So @sfdaya on Twitter.

Unknown Speaker
In Bahasa Indonesian Thank you is to terima kasih so terima kasih for tuning in to the DIESOL podcast.

Brent Warner
Thanks everybody. Have a good one.

Ixchell Reyes
Thank you

Dayamudra Dennehy (@sfDaya) shares insights on how to create a friendly and accepting online community with your English Language Learning Students. From creating a liquid syllabus that’s open before class starts, to showing a better understanding of student needs and respecting their personal situations at home, Daya has ideas to help us all reflect on our approach to online teaching.

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