I’m going to do something in this post that honestly makes me uncomfortable. I’m not really good at self-promotion and I know that it drives some people bananas when they encounter others who use their social media platforms for self-aggrandizement. To be honest, I’m actually one of those people. I stopped following a few colleagues on Twitter because their feeds turned into a self-promotion vehicle. I stopped listening to a pretty famous podcaster recently because he couldn’t stop promoting his book. I get that it’s part of the hustle and that people like to celebrate and promote what they’re working on. I’ve just never been good at it. And it also makes me really uncomfortable. But I might have mentioned that already.
So, I’m going to jump into that pool of discomfort to share a project that I’m collaborating with a colleague on. But first, some back story.
A month or two ago, I received a number of emails from local science teachers who were struggling with the remote/online/hybrid modalities that their districts were embracing in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a former science teacher who teaches a lot online, they felt I could offer some advice. I was happy to help. But in my conversations with these teachers, I realized that this was a challenge that many science teachers were probably facing. So I reached out to my colleague (and former doctoral advisor) Scott McDonald to confirm my suspicions. Scott is a professor at Penn State whose work also intersects the science, teaching and technology worlds. As we discussed the teachers we’d both been working with, we realized that we needed to offer broader support to the science education community during the pandemic.
So we started a podcast. It’s called Science In-Between and it is now available wherever you find podcasts. If you’re wondering where the name comes from, it actually has a dual meaning. With teachers working in remote, online and face-to-face worlds, they’re teaching “in between” traditional learning environments. So, the podcast is going to help others teach science “in between.”
But the name also references a concept I read about called Ma, which is the void between objects and people. When we think of gaps between things, we think about empty space. But emptiness depends on one’s perspective. “Ma is empty space that can be filled with any possibility. What you project into that space – an object, an intention, or an awareness or understanding – shapes the experience of anyone who enters into or engages with that space,” writes Alan Seale on his post titled The Power of the Space in Between. And Scott and I really liked that metaphor. While we’re struggling to work through the seemingly (empty) digital space of remote/online/hybrid instruction, we can also view that space as being filled with possibility and opportunity. We’re hoping to project that the space “in-between” can be also be a space of innovation.
Or at least that’s our plan. Like I said, the first handful of episodes are available wherever you find podcasts. Give it a listen. Or don’t. I offer no pressure. I also promise to return to my normal musings and self-deprecating insights next week.
Thanks for wading through this discomfort with me.