Part 1: What do you do?
In awkward social settings, when the conversation runs dry, someone, hoping to buoy the dialogue, might inquire after what I do. For a living. It’s at that moment that I wish I could respond with something well-known and understandable. Accountant. Fisherman. Flame Thrower. Knowing full well that asking me what I do will not lead to any less awkward social engagement, I sometimes respond with my official title, Curriculum, Teaching and Learning Specialist. Why not? It’s on my business cards and my email signature and my silver magnetic name tag that I can never get to sit straight on my lapel. The title is just long enough that by the time I get to Specialist, Curriculum is forgotten. Blank stares ensue. So sometimes I respond with Educational Developer, the term accepted by other educational developers across the country. It makes sense to us. It’s the title used at conferences, swinging with pride from our lanyards, gloriously meaningless to delegates at the other vaguely named conferences with whom in awkward silence we ride the elevators.
No matter what title I use, if I use one at all, I am almost always required to qualify it with what ends up being a garbled, inadequate elaboration. Some of these qualifiers are listed below, along with my reasons for cringing upon their release from my lips, and the reaction of the listener.
Me: I teach teachers.
[Not quite true, and it’s kind of patronizing. To the listener. And to teachers everywhere. And maybe even to me.]
Other person: Silence
Me: I support faculty in a number of ways, mostly related to teaching and learning.
[Better, but not great. Kind of simplistic. Doesn’t really define what I do. I need more detail].
Other person: Silence. And a nod.
Me: I’m a catalyst for change! An ally! A sponsor for innovation! A match-maker! A builder of process! An infectious germ of transformation! A comrade!
[A bit much, really. Kind of propanganistic.]
Other person: Annoyed? Confused? I can’t tell. They have usually left by now. Vanished to cheese and cracker tray.
And so I am writing a blog post about what exactly it is that a Curriculum, Teaching and Learning Specialist Educational Developer does. The next time I get asked what I do I will point them to this blog post. And then head to the cheese and cracker tray myself.
See Part 2