Trying to avoid burn out

June 20, 2011

This week has been extremely frustrating and I feel that my initial enthusiasm has burned out.  I need to pick myself up and continue with positivity.  I find it difficult to write a blog post when I’m feeling lethargic and I don’t feel that it can fully capture my feelings.  As stated in my previous post there was an uncomfortable absence of communication around the course recently and students did not appear to be contributing to the task.  I decided to send a motivating e.mail to students asking if I could assist them in any way and informed them that they should not hesitate to contact me with regards to any problems or queries they were having.  From this e.mail I received replies from two students who were unable to continue with the course.  They were extremely apologetic and explained that due to personal circumstances, could no longer participate.  I felt that the course was starting to crumble around my feet and I searched inside for an answer to why this was happening.  I thought that my course was not working and that the reason students were stopping the course was because it was too time consuming or unsuitable to their needs.  I need to realise that it is uncertain what will happen during the course and I can’t make myself fully responsible for students dropping out.    On a more positive note the remaining students were starting to contribute to the task which included finding a blog/website of interest to them and luckily interaction was flowing again.  However, most students made me aware that they were very busy and could not dedicate as much time to the task as they had initially intended.  I was also made aware that they were finding it difficult to find a blog/website which interested them enough to share with others which contributed to them being unable to complete the task earlier. I need to realise that students may find certain task more difficult to complete than others and rather than imposing my own ideas it is important to create tasks which are flexible.

A further concern is that interactions may become lessened between the students because there are only four left. Also, my initial proposal of creating a multicultural community is not taking shape and perhaps I set my sights too high.  It is difficult to install autonomy in students and perhaps I should have made sure that each student had a personal plan/time schedule to follow during the week where they would make sure at designated times to contribute to the course.   Maybe students are dedicating more time to the course than I think, however it is really difficult to gauge how much time they are actually spending.  My main priority is to encourage students by providing continual positive reinforcement and make them aware that I am available.  I’m unsure how much attention I should provide and whether this will create too much reliance.  However, I do feel that due to the nature of teaching online and the lack of physical presence that it is extremely necessary to engage with students and install a humanistic element so that they realise that even though there is a cyber-barrier created there is still connection and support available.

I decided to meet students in Second Life instead of skype this week for a 1-2-1 session because I have organised a group meeting in SL this Saturday so I wanted to make sure that initial SL anxieties could be alleviated and offer them a brief orientation to prepare them for communicating with others through voice and text chat.  This was the perfect opportunity to find out how comfortable they were using Second Life and to assist with practicing the basic functions.  Students were very receptive and appeared to really enjoy and learn from the experience.  They all expressed that they were really looking forward to meeting the other students in SL.

This is my first blog post this week as I have encountered problems with my internet connection which has meant that I have been unable to be fully available for corresponding with the students.  It could not have happened at a worse time and I’m really hoping that the connection will be fixed in time for the SL meeting.  I was concerned that my students internet connections would be weak but never expected that my own connection would interfere with the course.  Conducting a course online relies on a consistently strong network connection and it is extremely frustrating when technological problems occur which are out of my hands.  I’m half way through and I need to make sure that both the internet and my mind are healthy and strong enough to continue positively with this process and avoid burn out.

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