Saturday, April 19, 2008

End of the Semester Reflections on the UIUC Spanish Community Service Learning

(Wow, I look like a crazy person in this picture!) In my previous post I wrote about student and TA feedback and how I planned to respond to it. Most of those issues revolved around new elements in the course and the need to fine-tune them. Using YouTube for students' diarios digitales and working with new community partners were challenges that accompanied the wonderful growth in the program.

In this video I reflect on other challenges and successes:

  • Sustaining/Changing existing partnerships. Just as Spanish & Illinois changes and grows, so do our established community partners and partnerships.
  • Responding to unpleasant events in the community and with our community partners.
  • Launching this blog and highlighting student bloggers, Liz and Chris.
  • Adding team community projects to the SPAN 332 (Spanish & Entrepreneurship) curriculum.

In general, I realize that one of the main duties of my job directing and teaching these courses is to continuously reflect on their successes and failures, exactly in the same way that I ask my students to reflect on their learning in the community. Reflection doesn't just happen at the beginning and end of a semester, and it's never "done."

Responding to my own reflections as well as student and TA feedback is part of what I love about this job, but it does create pressures for me. I cannot respond to every feedback I receive, and I have other duties to perform as well. Furthermore, I don't believe that a community service learning course instructor/coordinator should be more concerned with reflection and responding to feedback than instructors/coordinators of other types of courses, although I think that is often the case.

It's a balancing act: asking students to construct the course with you and at the same time maintaining a course curriculum that responds to research and sound pedagogy.

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