April 22, 2017
This will be my last post for PIDP 3260. My progress through the PIDP program has been prodigious. Capstone and 3220 still need to be completed to get my diploma. Each module has taught me more about becoming a better teacher and a lot about myself. Through the reflective writings, Blogs, readings and assignments I have a visual reminder of how far I have come and a list of things I still need to learn.
All the instructors have been supportive of my learning journey in different ways and all encouraged my growth in thought and deed. Each instructor brought a new level of understanding about what it means to be a teacher and a diversity of ways to reach students. They all displayed a comprehensive level of knowledge of what they each taught. There was a thread that joined all of them and that was the willingness to provide me with additional resources for any subject matter that I wanted to pursue more deeply. As an online student I really appreciated knowing they were so available to me for questions.
From my fellow classmates I have been exposed to TedTalks, articles, memes and conversations that challenged my views and opinions and helped to improve my cognitive and critical thinking skills. From this program I have learned that there is so much more that imparting information to become a good teacher. It is essential that I keep my skills sharp by constantly challenging my ideas and conclusions. Feedback strategies like micro-teaching, 360 degree strategy or the one minute paper are just a few of the ways to get feedback both on how I teach and what is actually being learned in the classroom.
My assigned readings have explored diversity and how not to become an accidental racist. That the curricula I am teaching is not always what the student is learning and finally that I need to keep myself open, humble and always be cognizant of the power of my words. That there are many educators and theorists who study how to apply trusted learning theories like Blooms Taxonomy and use the latest digital platforms emerging for students to use anywhere in the world. I just have to remain open to learning how to use them in the most effective way that encourages learning and connections. I have read how failure is often the best way to learn and to remember to always be kind.
My plan is to incorporate all that I have learned from the PIDP programmed and apply it to my work and to pursue teaching in a more formal setting. I will taking further courses with respect to digital technologies and how to apply them in the classroom.
April 19, 2017
This is the last week of PIDP 3260. I can hardly believe it. PIDP 3260 has tested me in very diverse ways. We had the blog (see below :)), reflective writing, group project and a digital project along with the required reading, The Skillful Teacher by Stephen D. Brookfield. It really did cover the gamut of the tools for our pedagogics.
I find the blog a great way to stay invested in the course. It requires 2-3 weekly contributions that keep the class in my front view rather than rear view each week. As an adult online learner there requires a certain bloodiness of mind to stay on track. Our family, work, friends and other responsibilities constantly challenge our commitment within ourselves to stay focused on our learning. The blog helps me stay on track.
Reflective writing keeps the old “gogys” in line. This is the place I really use the Blooms Taxonomy process to ensure that I really am using my critical thinking skills. The instructor (Jeff May) feedback also provides me with clarity and thought to apply to my next contribution. Though I am sure he thinks the APA style of citation used for writing a paper eludes me completely. I did print the APA Citation Style how to guide. I think my citations are getting better.
This was my first group project in the PIDP program. I was very nervous about it as we all know how group projects go. I think we all envision that we the one doing all the work while the others do nothing. That was so not true in the group I was with. Firas, Shirley, Kat were all great to work with. We all contributed to the forum with thoughtful and diverse comments in a very respectful way. This is never easy at the best of times but the fact that we all came from different stages in our careers, backgrounds and life experiences really opened the forum to some great dialogue. Shirley did the lion share of the writing by setting up the forum for us and then she combined all out posts in to a cohesive and legible document. We all contributed to the editing and updating to produce a really great paper that was a true group effort.
The Digital project. This is my circle of hell in the online world. I love the research the finding an idea and then it comes to a complete dead stop. This is something that I need to explore to find out why. My classmates did some fabulous videos, animations, etc. Mine seriously took days to do. I like it, I’m happy with it but I need to learn and be comfortable with doing something other than static digital tools because I know it is so important to becoming a more rounded teacher by being able to provide multiple learning platforms for my students.
The Skillful Teacher was a great read. This book will have a huge impact on my teaching. The coverage of social and racial diversity in learning really opened my eyes to things I honestly did not even think of. Being a white woman in a middle class world has given me some privileges that I just don’t think about. No one wants to be an accidental racist but when we walk around not looking and seeing, racism will happen. Brookfield lays out some great feedback strategies for both students and teachers. This is a book I can see referring to many times in my career.
I would have to say that this course really reflects how this should be when I am teaching, I need to keep reading to educate myself. I will work in groups so I have learned from others how to conduct myself and what to expect from others in the group. I will learn how to use a wider variety of digital projects to be able to reach a diverse group of learners. While I may not keep a blog of my teaching journey I will keep a written journal as recommended by Brookfield so that I can see that my reflective and critical thinking skills are continually being tested. When I review my journal I can check myself to ensure that I am not repeating teaching mistakes and if I am I will reach to my peers, students and friends to see how I can improve.
April 17, 2017
April 12, 2017
I am commenting today on a quote from Chapter 16, Understanding Students’ Resistance to Learning, of The Skillful Teacher. The quote I have chosen for this last reflection is “Learning imposed with no attempt to justify its importance is liable to be complied with in a rote, superficial fashion. Learning objectives that are confusing and seem to spring out of nowhere, with no time allotted to discuss how they might be achieved, will be resisted far more strongly that those that are clearly explained with ample time allowed for student questions, clarifications, and negotiations”
(P. 217, Brookfield, Stephen D., (2015), The Skillful Teacher, On Techniques, Trust, and Responsiveness).
The reason I chose this quote is because it clearly put in to words why I fail to learn from some lecturers. It reminded me of all the times someone was trying to teach something and I just zoned out or I could not sit still enough and focus to hear what they were trying to teach. Then ultimately in my zoned out state a word or idea would seep in and I would belatedly realize it was something I would need to know or had questions about. Then I get frustrated with myself , because of the lecturers lack of clarity in the beginning , and this further ensures that I will not learn something that was important to me. The whole situation is like Alice going down the rabbit hole, everything just gets worse.
I recognize that I make the choice to not listen fully does not endear me any better to the instructor and in there lies my “aha” moment. One thing that I can easily do to help my students is offer clarity of what I am about to teach them before I start my lecture. When outlining the reason for my lecture I can explain at the same time that there will be time for questions, either throughout or at the end, depending on the lecture and time allotted. This will prepare my students and giving them “permission” to ask questions. An article in Faculty Focus suggests “ explicit discussion of pedagogical choices with students as framing, the use of language and class time to highlight the nature of the classroom environment rather than the conceptual ideas being taught there” (Shannon and Tanner, Faculty Focus; http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/effective-classroom-management/strategies-preventing-student-resistance/). This is not a new concept for me as an instructor who lectures but rather as a student understanding why some times I just don’t engage in lectures. I teach a technical skill in tandem with creativity so the pedagogical progression is to scaffold the learning. The intention is that the student become a more proficient sewist, not just a proficient sewing machine operator.
The insight that I have gained from this quote is to keep doing what I am doing. I need to look for ways to do it better and with more clarity. I need to let my students’ know that I will use a variety pedagogic tools at my disposal so I can reach all of them at different times throughout the course. For my students I need to set goals that are both attainable and perhaps some that may be beyond the curricula to see how far they will trust themselves, and me, to guide them there. To achieve that goal I would like to spend more time getting to know my students better. To do this I will be doing an introduction letter/email that tells the student about the course but also asks the student to send me a general email/text/tweet about what they expect to learn. It will be a mandatory part of the week one class. With these responses I can make small changes to my curricula to accommodate their feedback. A digital tool I will be exploring is Voice Thread. I like the idea of a place where I can put a tutorial, ask a question or have students provide feedback on a lecture. This format allows students/instructor to use multiple types of media and the program can be used on any operating system. It is free to use so cost will not be a prohibitor and with free wifi available it should not rack up data charges for students on a budget.
A second feedback tool I will be integrating is the Muddiest Point. Each week I will end the last class with a request from the students to share with me the Muddiest point of the week. This simple exercise will be a required of each student. Over the weekend I will be able to review them and then the next class we have together I will spend the first 15-30 minutes reviewing the areas the students have asked for more clarity in. This shows the students that what they say matters and each week this will build another level of trust between us.
The most important thing I have learned from the required reading is that whatever tool I use I must demonstrate to my students that I am hearing them. That ultimately I am the power in the classroom but they have the power to shift how they learn so that we can all be successful in their learning journey.
Brookfield, Stephen D., (2015), The Skillful Teacher, On Techniques, Trust, and Responsiveness in the Classroom: San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Shannon B. Seidel PhD and Kimberly D. Tanner PhD, (January 26, 2015), Strategies for Preventing Student Resistance, Faculty Focus, http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/effective-classroom-management/strategies-preventing-student-resistance/
April 9, 2017 – Week 7
Well, this week we wrapped up our ethical dilemma scenario group project. I was very fortunate to work with 3 really great people. It was an interesting project that showed me how difficult it is to find ethical solutions, even when we have clear guidelines. Ethical decisions that we make are so much about who we are that these guidelines put in place by our places of employment and schools are essential to working towards intentional ethics.
Another way to work more ethically is through inclusion. This Ted Talk by Helen Turnbull shows us how we can open ourselves up to a richer life by acknowledging our biases.
Inclusion, Exclusion, Illusion and Collusion : Helen Turnbull at TEDxDelrayBeach is an excellent Ted Talk on how we are well-intentioned we are not always inclusive.
April 4, 2017
Recently Maclean’s Magazine tweeted out an article titled, Three university students complete a group assignment. One cheats. Should they all be punished?https://twitter.com/MacleansMag/status/849018847390781440 This tweet caught my eye because I am currently doing a group project. It has to be said that I do not believe any of us on the team will cheat but it is interesting to read this article to see who does cheat, why they do it and the schools responses.
Group projects are always hard for me. They require that all people participate equally and contribute the same level of thinking. To me this is an unrealistic goal. I am a perfectionist and control freak so for me to survive a group project I need to go with the flow. This means that I have to go against myself to be a successful and contributing participant. The group project is a reality of school and work so I needed to find a way to participate appropriately in a way that would ensure my success as a participant and for the project.
There is a great article
6 Tips for Surviving a Group Project, By Campusdiscovery (05/05/2015) that really broke it down for me. I like people and this article gives a guide for the group project. In our group we had one member start the thread, another direct it and set a time line and it is really working well. This outline of time is particularly important because we are all enrolled in the same program but on different timelines by about a 2 weeks so the due date is different for each of us. I think that hardest part for control freaks like myself is that we do not think we are giving our best if we are not leading the project. That is our (my) egos talking and we (I) need to learn to park the ego and let others drive so I can learn not only from the assignment but from each other on how to work successfully within a group.
Mar 31, 2017
Today I am going to comment on Chapter 6 of The Skillful Teacher titled Lecturing Creatively. In this chapter Brookfield looks at different ways to reach students in this modern age. He does not dismiss the traditional lecture model. He feels this teaching approach “should begin with the lecturer explaining its purpose, its relevance to course goals and the syllabus, and its connection to earlier sessions or assignments.”(p.71). He then outlines 5 reasons:
1. to establish a broad outline of a body of material
2. to explain, with frequent examples, concepts that learners struggle to understand
3. to introduce alternative perspectives and interpretations
4. to model intellectual attitudes and behaviours you wish to encourage students
5. to encourage learners’ interest in a topic
Brookfield continues to breakdown lecture strategies by showing us the characteristics of a good lecture combined with teaching and communication approaches.
I particularly like the “Speaking in Tongues” method. You need to put up 3 to 5 pages, with an idea or thought written on them, around the room that you, the instructor, explain its content and purpose of the individual page and then move on to the next and do the same. After that the students divide into groups and answer questions using that particular pages set of framework as a group. I like how this encourages students to think in a different way and work collaboratively. Unlike some group projects everyone participates on the same level and only for a short time. It is an opportunity for students to learn new ways to break down an issue. As an instructor I will get to see how the students thinking evolves and where I will need to add information to future lectures.
Mar 24, 2017
This week there were 2 examples of education and ethics in mainstream media. The first item was on television from Rex Murphy on CBC National, March 23, addressing the demise of Free Speech on Campus. He comments on the University faculty and administrations unwillingness to stop unprofessional and juvenile behaviors. These have been on display by student groups whose philosophies do not agree with visiting lecturers. He offers two examples of professionals who were asked by a university to come and lecture. One professor, Jordan Peterson was not allowed to speak and left the University of McMasters because of poor behavior of students. At another university Danielle Robitaille who was asked to speak on the role of women in the legal profession and canceled citing safety concerns.
The second item of note was the article written by Andrew Potter for Maclean’s titled ” How a snow storm exposed Quebec’s real problem: social malaise“. The writing of this article cost him his job as director of McGill University’s Institute for the Study of Canada. He retains his position as an associate professor in the faculty of arts. Mr. Potter was asked “whether he feels his academic freedom had been violated, Potter declined to comment. “I’m going to let that debate play out on its own,”he said.(“Friscolanti, Michael, March 23, 2017).
In the first item Rex Murphy is speaking to the ethics of University itself. How the faculty and board are deemed unprofessional and unethical by not addressing the students disrespectful behaviors. Where is the freedom of speech if one is not allowed to speak? How can we properly argue anything from only one side? In Canada we are talking now about how bad behaviors stopping free speech. In TX they are talking about allowing guns to be carried in the schools. Three professors are suing over this being allowed. “it seems intuitive that the presence of firearms may inhibit the free flow of ideas and opinions in the one place that we have traditionally designated for that important exchange — the university classroom.”(Flaherty, Colleen,July 2016). What professional ethics are being demolished by simply thinking one of your students are carrying a gun.
The second media storm was started from an article written for the respected Canadian Magazine Maclean’s. The article was written by Andrew Potter. Chantel Hebert, established author and columnist, stated “He failed to let the facts get in the way of a good rant” (The Star, March 24). Potter was writing as the he interpreted the situation. He did not get the facts to back up his article. As an accomplished writer and then Director for the Study of Canada it was unprofessional, but was it unethical? Did the university have a right to wade in to the fray? Herbert states “Universities should not be in the business of endorsing or repudiating the views of the academics they employ. But by the same token, nor should McGill have defended an indefensible column.” Is she right, does the University have that right? Was it written anywhere in his contract or is this one of the unwritten rules we all follow, never embarrass the place that employs you. How will that impact creativity, intellectual discussions, politics or religion from ever being talked about anywhere if it isn’t allowed at our places of learning for fear of public interpretations.
UBC had a similar situation with speaker John Furlong in January this year. The university initially bowed to vocal minority but then revised its decision and the speech went ahead. The protestors were allowed to protest and the audience was allowed to listen. It was not a simple decision but it was necessary to preserve free speech at universities and colleges.
Universities and colleges are where we learn to argue respectfully by listening to all sides of a theory. It is the oasis that allows for discourse safely and respectfully. Theses are the people who will be running the world. It is important that we have an ethics policy in place but it must run both side of the street, student and faculty. There will be mistakes but that is where we can learn to respect the need for ethical and moral guidelines. We can modify behaviors with each piece of information we receive and determine if they should change. Men and women can now study together, people of colour can attend university, girls can wear pants, the list goes on of ethical codes that have evolved over the years. We must constantly strive for information so that we can properly make informed decisions.
In closing I would like to quote from the Maclean’s article by Micheal Friscolanti ” Peter Loewen, director of the school of public policy and governance at the University of Toronto, says this issue extends well beyond one person and one magazine article. “If Andrew Potter has been made to resign from McGill, every professor at that institution should now ask themselves the following question: ‘Are they more or less secure now in their intellectual endeavours today than they were yesterday?’ ” he said. “It seems to me that they are less secure, because what you have now is this nagging sense that if you say something that steps over the line, your university will, as quickly as possible, cut you loose.”
Flaherty, Colleen, (July 19, 2016) The Right to Ban Arms, https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2016/07/19/three-professors-sue-ut-austin-over-right-ban-guns-their-classrooms
Friscolanti, Michael, (March 23, 2017) Why Andrew Potter lost his ‘dream job’ at McGill
High-profile writer forced out over a Maclean’s column in what’s being called an attack on academic freedom., http://www.macleans.ca/news/canada/why-andrew-potter-lost-his-dream-job-at-mcgill/
Herbert, Chantel, (March 24, 2017), It was shoddy journalism that cost Andrew Potter his job at McGill, https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2017/03/24/it-was-shoddy-journalism-that-cost-andrew-potter-his-job-at-mcgill-hbert.html
Mason, Gary, (January 19, 2017) Globe & Mail, UBC’s reversal on John Furlong speech only hints at the depth of the fiasco; http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/ubcs-reversal-on-john-furlong-speech-only-hints-at-depth-of-the-fiasco/article33560343/
In my research I came across this Ted talk, The Significance of Ethics and Ethics Education in Daily Life | Michael D. Burroughs | TEDxPSU. The speaker raises some really excellent points on ethics in education. It is only 10 minutes long but very insightful.
Mar 22, 2017
We are to comment this week on teaching in diverse classrooms. I am posting my reflective submission 2 on cultural suicide.
“Cultural suicide describes the process whereby students are punished by their families, peers, and communities for what appears to be an act of betrayal, that is, to be seen changing as a result of participating in learning” (p. 61, Brookfield, Stephen D., (2015), The Skillful Teacher, On Techniques, Trust, and Responsiveness).
This is my choice as the 2nd quote because it seemed so incredibly lugubrious. That a student would be forced to choose between family, friends and the opportunity to be a more well- rounded individual than they currently are now through education must be incredibly arduous. I have been very fortunate in my life to have always been supported and encouraged by my family, friends and colleagues, for the most part, to become more conversant through educational opportunities. To stretch myself and be curious about what interests me and even what doesn’t. Maybe even especially to learn what doesn’t appear to be interesting to me now to become more perspicacious.
That a first-generation student is denied support by the people who profess to love them the most seems both reprehensible and completely understandable. I understand that no one likes to be left behind and this is the thought that makes me understand and even empathize with first-generation students family and peers. Cultural suicide is exactly what they are performing when they embark on a path of higher learning. To knowingly put themselves in this situation must take an incredible amount of courage and strength. For those students who are first-generation it cannot be unlike the experiences their parents must have felt when leaving their homeland for Canada. It cannot be easy to leave behind all that you know and love, no matter the reason, for something completely foreign.
Recently in our own country we have been struggling to come to terms through the reconciliation process for the cultural suicide of Aboriginal children forced into the “Canadian” education curriculum by the Canadian government. The reconciliation report states “Words of apology alone are insufficient; concrete actions on both symbolic and material fronts are required.” (Austin, Ian; https://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/03/world/americas/ canadas-forced-schooling-of-aboriginal-children-was-cultural-genocide-report-finds.html?_r=0). It is important that as a teacher that I learn from acknowledging and understanding the mistakes of our past histories of all forms of cultural suicide. I must incorporate in my pedagogy the steps of Blooms Taxonomy of learning domains so students can reach higher levels of critical thinking. This will allow the students to create their own opinions based on analyzing and evaluating the new knowledge they are obtaining through education. They can then combine this with the knowledge they will bring to class from their previous personal and educational histories.
As an adult educator I must be cognizant that what I am teaching is enriching my students lives. My job is to instruct them to become improved critical thinkers who have developed cognitive processes. I must respect first where they are coming from to understand where they are heading. In my capacity as their instructor I need to help them find a community to support their growth. Brookfield outlines 5 simple rules to avoid cultural suicide for both the student and the teachers (p. 62 & 63). I think incorporating these student lead role playing scenarios in my classes both opens the minds of students who are not struggling with cultural suicide and those that are. Through the responses of my feedback instrument that I use in class each week it will be shown to me if this is a successful exercise for my students.
As the instructor I want to embrace new teaching techniques but I need to remember to temper my enthusiasm until I have heard what my colleagues teaching experiences have been, and if they have tried what I am learning and what their results were. Using my peers and student feedback along with classroom excises I can try my best to mitigate cultural suicide for both my students and myself.
Brookfield, Stephen D., (2015), The Skillful Teacher, On Techniques, Trust, and Responsiveness in the Classroom: San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Austin, Ian, June 2,2015, The New York times, Canada’s Forced schooling of aboriginal children was “cultural genocide,’ report finds, https:// http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/03/world/americas/canadas-forced-schooling-of- aboriginal-children-was-cultural-genocide-report-finds.html?_r=0
Mar 19, 2017-Week 4
This week we are to comment on the chapters in The Skillful Teacher that discuss diversity and racism in the classroom. Brookfield, in chapter 9 states ” this desire to be and be seen as a good White person often leads each of us to behaviors that have the opposite effect of what we intended” (p.112, The Skillful Teacher). This is something I have seen and done unintentionally until a non-white person took me aside and went – no, don’t do that. I have never intentionally behaved in a racist manner. I have a multi cultural family (white, black, brown, aboriginal and Thai) so I have been fortunate to have the errors of my ways pointed out to me in a safe and loving way. I have also held some of those same family members when overt and sometime very subtle unkindness has happened to them, particularly when it is done by a person who is in a position of power.
Brookfield speaks of embracing his own White Supremacy and his struggle with racism within himself. I find the term White Supremacy a little hard. For me in conjures up the ugliest forms of racist behaviours and the discussions of justification of those behaviours. Brookfield, in his desire to speak of his struggles seems to be not a White Supremist but rather a white male with learned racial discriminations. He states ” an alternative educational approach is to make these racist inclinations public to engage learners in a consideration of how to recognize and challenge these”, (p.113, The Skillful Teacher). That he is teaching and discussing racism in his classrooms speaks of his desire to take the chance that sometimes he may get it wrong and maybe he might just get it right and both learn and teach something really important.
Recently a young boy was in the news. He decided to get his haircut the same as his best friend so that the teacher couldn’t tell them apart http://darnkid.com/two-boys-got-haircut-teacher-wouldnt-able-tell-apart/. This was such a hopeful story. Not just because the children clearly were not seeing colour but that their parents, teachers and friends supported their belief that no one could tell them apart. That we are getting to the time in history that this might be the wave of the future, to be colour-blind to one another. How fantastic would that be.
Brookfield recommends a balanced team of instructors that represent the classroom diversity teaching in tandem the same curriculum. This is such a fabulous idea. Not only would it reach all students, white or not, but those who have different learning styles. Each teacher on the team would not have the same teaching style because we all come with our own learned behaviours and skills. That no matter how much we want to understand another’s situation we are who we are. I am a white woman who has the benefit of a loving and stable family. I cannot change that. It doesn’t mean I can not learn though through open and honest dialogue structured in my pedagogy to become a more informed and a less unintentionally racist instructor. I can learn to change both my behaviours and attitudes of a lifetime through honest dialogs.
About me now:
Currently I am in the early stages of my desired profession. I have been teaching in the community for about 5 years. It is a very part-time and want to be able to move in to full-time teaching. When I have completed my PIDP program I am going to pursue the online teaching program as a companion degree. Online opportunities to teach are becoming not only more common but also more valued as “real” degrees.
Through my employer I am doing more coaching and instructional training to help facilitate my goals of full time teaching. My employer supports my goals through education and learning opportunities.
Mar 15, 2017 Week-3
I watched a Ted Talk by Dena Simmons titled How students of color confront the imposter syndrome. She gave this Ted Talk in 2014 and it was interesting to listen to her speak about her experiences as a black student from the Bronx whose mother got her enrolled in Connecticut boarding school so she could have a better life. Her story was moving, inspiring and thought-provoking.
She spoke of the treatment she received not because of her behaviour but because of her colour. How students and teachers treated her with disrespect and in some cases fear. She speaks of how a teacher publicly humiliated her by enunciating the word asking, that it was not axeing. Her pain in describing this incident is clearly still very real to her.
Her drive to do well is something to be admired. This is from her bio “Simmons is a recipient of a Harry S. Truman Scholarship, a J. William Fulbright Fellowship, an Education Pioneers Fellowship, a Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship, a Phillips Exeter Academy Dissertation Fellowship and an Arthur Vining Davis Aspen Fellowship among others. She is a graduate of Middlebury College and Pace University. She received her doctorate degree from Teachers College, Columbia University.” (June 2014, https://www.ted.com/speakers/dena_simmons) WOW.
As I listened to her talk about going to school and the challenges she faced I was reminded of some of my own difficult days in school. Days of humiliation, bullying and threats. I am not a person of colour but those things happened to me too. What did not happen was the feeling of being an imposter, of not belonging in the school, but rather with those students. I did not have presumptions made about my intelligence, ability to learn or possible criminal tendencies. Brookfield defines impostorship “the sense that learners report that at some deeply embedded level they process neither the talent nor the right to become college students” (Brookfield, Stephen, The Skillful Teacher).
Her mother clearly knew what she was doing when she moved her and her sister to Connecticut from their home in the Bronx. Her mother was an immigrant so she knew it would not be easy for her daughters. I do not think should she would have imagined they felt they didn’t belong. Clearly now though Ms Simmons mom can be very proud of her daughters. Not only did they survive but they are helping other students and teachers identify this syndrome and educating us to be more aware and how to support these children and adults. She certainly opened my eyes to this issue.
Brookfield, Stephen D., (2015), The Skillful Teacher, On Techniques, Trust, and Responsiveness in the Classroom: San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Mar 11, 2017 – Week 3
This week I have been participating in our ethical forum and preparing my other assignments. If I have learned one thing in this program is that time passes quickly! and I should start on my assignments as soon as possible so that I can give them the attention they will require.
Our assignment this week is to reflect on chapter 2 of The Skillful Teacher, The Core Assumptions of Skillful Teaching, pages 15 thru 27. The author, Stephen Brookfield, states that he has four core assumptions
” -Skillful teaching is whatever helps the student learn
-Skillful teachers adopt a critically reflective stance toward their practice
-The most important knowledge that skillful teachers need to do good work is a constant awareness of how students are experiencing their learning and perceiving teachers actions
-College students of any age should be treated as adults” (p.15)
Brookfield then goes through each of these assumptions in further detail as to how his experiences and readings produced this list of four core assumptions. He demonstrates that when we keep these assumptions in the forefront we are actually giving ourselves more freedom to try different teaching strategies. With that freedom comes the need for critical and reflective feedback. To be sure what we “think” is happening in our classroom actually is. When we engage a regular feedback instrument for our students we encourage them to trust us and allows them to actively engage in their learning. We cannot expect that we can reach everybody every class but we can try. Finally by treating all students as adults we show them respect. Everyone from 18-80 wants to be treated appropriately as an adult, once they are in college, and that they belong. It is incumbent that the teachers to help students on their journey to becoming more informed adults by providing open and honest dialogue, curriculum and clearly defined expectations for success and providing a safe community in which to learn.
Mar 5, 2017 – Week 2
I have added 3 new blogs to follow. I selected the blogs from my Ethical Dilemma group assignment classmates, Kat, Shirley and Firas. The blogs are all unique. All of us are reaching the conclusion of the VCC PIDP program but the field of study we are persuing are all different. This is clearly reflected in their personal blogs. Take a look and enjoy.
Firas shares with us his journey at http://firasblog.weebly.com. Here he lets us know he is a father, husband, very well-educated and practicing registered nurse. He came to Canada in 2009 to offer his family a richer life. His blog includes all the previous courses blogging. It is interesting to see how his writing has changed over the program.
Shirley’s Blog https://stompkins8293.wixsite.com/mylearningjourney shows a clear love of humour. Her use of memes and cartoons are very effective for catching and directing my attention to the writings. It was interesting to read how her career started in marketing in the mid 80’s and how she compared her experiences then to blogging now. Like Shirley, I agonize about what I will write and who will see it. It is good to know I am not the only one who feels like this. Once I sit down and “do it” the stress seems to fall away.
Kat joined our group this week. Her blog https://kathassard.wordpress.com/. Kat comes to us from Alberta (love online classes!) and is currently teaching in the pipe trades and working on completing her Masters in Education (WOW) . Like Kat I have a beloved companion named Sherlock. He and I have enjoyed 10 years of frivolity and adventures. He is my classmate extraordinaire!
I feel it only fair to mention my husband Robert of 30 years is a full on support system who keeps me on track and well fed. I am very much looking forward to working with this interesting and diverse group on our ethical dilemma assignment.
Our ethical dilemma is Scenario 1:
You are surprised one Monday morning when your department head, Gary, asks you to come into his office. “Carlos, I thought I should tell you that Amna came to see me on Friday with a complaint about your class.” You are taken off guard. Amna has been an excellent student and is doing very well in your class. What could she have a problem with? Gary continues, “She feels that you are playing favourites in class. She says you’ve been going to the pub every week and discussing class material there, and she’s feeling excluded.”
Now you see what the issue is. Every Thursday after class, most of your class goes to a pub across the street and socializes. You have always been careful to invite the whole class, and students have enjoyed the chance to continue discussing class material, talk about their future careers, and get to know each other better. You know that Amna is Muslim, and doesn’t drink alcohol. She’s probably feeling uncomfortable about going into a pub.
“No problem,” you say. “Thanks for letting me know. Next week we can meet at the diner down the street instead.”
“Actually,” Gary replies, “you really shouldn’t be socializing at all with students outside of class hours. There will always be some students who are left out. And how are you supposed to grade them fairly if they see you as a friend?
Reflective Writing Assignment 1
I have chosen the quote from page 1 “teaching is frequently a gloriously messy pursuit in which shock, contradiction and risk are endemic.” This quote is from chapter 1 of The Skillful Teacher titled Experiencing Teaching by Stephen Brookfield The quote intrigued me first on the suggested prompts from the assignment outline and again when I started reading the book.
The first thing I thought of was relief. Brookfield is saying that learning is messy seemed a bit of a contradiction to what we believe teaching should be; organized, calm and controlled. My experience as a teacher is not extensive but has had moments of contradiction, shock and risk. It made me feel less alone when I reflected back on the times it happened in the classroom. The feeling of being overwhelmed or out of touch with my students. The quote allows for me to see that great teachers are not all seeing oracles but rather humans trying to provide the best learning experiences for there students, even when things get messy.
The idea of not being alone, that these experiences were happening not because I am a new teacher but rather part of the journey of teaching, was a moment of illumination. The quote made me realize that being a good teacher is not about being perfect. “ Just when we think we have anticipated every eventuality, something unexpected happens that elects new responses and causes us to question our assumptions of good practice” (p7. Brookfield, Stephen D., (2015), The Skillful Teacher, On Techniques, Trust, and Responsiveness). This insightful sentence clarifies that teaching is messy no matter how hard we try to prevent it. Teaching involves students, we cannot control students anymore than we can control the technology that we use in the classroom. I know that I have the knowledge and skills to be a good teacher, maybe even a great teacher. To become a better teacher I must muddle through situations that arise unplanned. I can use my experience and education to succeed or fail. When the situation passes I will need to critically reflect on what went array and went really well and incorporate that knowledge in future lectures. This will empower my learning to becoming a better teacher for my students.
“If we experience the process of interpreting on a regular basis, we can share the successes and failures with students in an active, exciting way that transcends articles and in-class activities” (Evolving Paradigms in Interpreter Education, http://gupress.gallaudet.edu/excerpts/EPone5.html). Reflecting on my teaching, using different teaching strategies and asking colleagues for advice, with these tools I can provide a better learning environment.
I can build trust with my students by clearly laying my expectations in my course assignment outlines and rubrics for each exercise and sticking to it. When I use the student feedback from weekly strategies, like the Muddiest Point, I will share what I have learned with the class from their input the following week. I will then apply this knowledge and demonstrate to the students by using more effective instructional strategies. This demonstrates that I am willing to adjust my curriculum to ensure they have a complete comprehension of the material I am teaching. Then when there comes the inevitable messy day I am better prepared to get me and my students through it.
Brookfield, Stephen D., (2015), The Skillful Teacher, On Techniques, Trust, and Responsiveness in the Classroom: San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
GU Press, (2012), Evolving Paradigms in Interpreter Education,
Feb 26, 2017 – Week 1
I have spent the week reading The Skillful Teacher by Stephen D. Brookfield. I am finding the reading very interesting and thought-provoking. Chapter 1, Experiencing Teaching, introduces us to the author and his experiences in teaching. He sets out to show us that just when we think we might have it all figured out our students show us we don’t.
Brookfield clearly explains that this book is his opinion and his experiences. That is not to say he doesn’t reference other materials and professionals linked to teacher development and growth. He likens teaching to white Water Rafting, full of ups and downs a few moments of grace and sometimes we just capsize the boat (or lecture).
Brookfield speaks of “growing into the truth of teaching” and how he states “developing a trust, a sense of intuitive confidence, in the accuracy and validity of our judgments and insights” (p.9, The Skillful Teacher). That this process is lifelong. We cannot become complacent but must always strive to become more.
He concludes the chapter by stating we are the experts on our own teaching. Not to say that colleagues, students and experts cannot assist but that we know how we teach best. The others influence and help us to become better teachers, or deliver more focused lectures or show us new ways to problem solve. We, the individual, will choose the ideas that work best for us and how we teach our students to provide a proficient well-rounded learning experience.
Feb 20, 2017
Getting ready to start a new course with professor Jeff May called Professional Practice. Reviewing the introduction and required reading shows me that this will be another exciting and informative step on my journey to becoming a better instructor. I am nearing the end of my PIDP journey and am looking forward to applying what I have learned along the way to this course.