Fostering Instructor Engagement

PIDP 3250 – Instructional Strategies
Vancouver Community College
Kathryn Truant
January 30, 2018


In Student Engagement Techniques A Handbook for College Faculty (2010) Dr. Elizabeth Barkley states, “Just as it is essential to engage students, so is it important to get and keep ourselves engaged in our teaching, even after many years in the trenches” (p. 74).


As an aspiring instructor, I will teach dental assistants the same thing repeatedly, year after year. I am fortunate that I love what I do, and I believe that instructor enthusiasm can go a long way in staying engaged in professional practice, but I think it is something that I will need to work at. I want to teach something that I know to someone else, while at the same learn something that I didn’t know before; I know how to be a dental assistant, and I want to learn how to teach dental assistants and stay engaged. Dr. Barkley interviews four educators asking them to share engagement techniques, and the “challenge of staying engaged in their teaching” (p. 75).


I believe that it is equally important to stay engaged in the teaching process, as it is to keep students engaged in learning. I want to be authentic, and maintain my enthusiasm; I think that students know when the instructor is not interested in a lesson. I followed Dr. Barkley’s lead and contacted a dental assisting instructor at Okanagan College in Kelowna. Lyn Krenz is a Certified Dental Assistant who practices in a dental clinic, she has a Provincial Instructor’s Diploma, and she has been an educator for many years. Her enthusiasm and dedication to her profession is infectious, and colleagues and students regard her highly. Lyn was very candid in her response to my question, “How do you stay engaged in your teaching?” Her response was clear: she loves what she does. “The program outcomes remain the same every year because the duties of a Certified Dental Assistant, as designated by the College of Dental Surgeons of BC (2018), remain static. The objectives of each individual unit of the program (as they relate to outcomes) are fluid. This means that if outcomes are met, teaching strategies can be edited as new technology is introduced in dentistry, and by instructor self-assessment (what worked well or didn’t work over the past year)” (personal communication, January 26, 2018).  Lyn loves to re-design the course map; she loves to stay current in dentistry and she also loves the challenge of fine-tuning the program.

Lyn Krenz, like the teachers interviewed by Dr. Barkley, are inspired by their topics they are teaching. Barkley proposes “that this is because they find value in their profession, have developed expectations that they can teach well, find their work intellectually stimulating, are appropriately challenged, care deeply about their students’ learning and feel as though they are part of a community dedicated to high quality teaching” (2010, 76). As an inspiring instructor, I will be responsible to my institution, to the College of Dental Surgeons of BC (my licensing body), to the community of dentists and dental specialists, to the public, and to my students to promote capable and confident CDA’s. In Freedom to Learn (1969), psychologist and educator Carl Rogers inspires me,

            It is my contention that tomorrow’s educator, whether the humblest kindergarten teacher, or the president of a great university, must know, at the deepest personal level, the stance he takes in regards to life. Unless he has true convictions as to how his values are arrived at, what sort of an individual he hopes will emerge from his educational organization, whether he is manipulating human robots, or dealing with free individual persons, and what kind of a relationship he is striving to build with these persons, he will have failed not only his profession, but his culture (p. 217-218)

Rogers reminds me that I have a responsibility to my current vocation as a dental assistant, and to my future vocation as an educator.


Dr. Barkley argues that “teaching is learning, and what applies to students as learners applies equally well to teachers as learners” (p. 74). I believe that this is what Lyn Krenz meant by staying on top of new technologies, and self-assessing. And like Lyn, I plan to remain current on new technology in dentistry by attending dental conventions, and pursuing professional development opportunities. The Thompson Okanagan Dental Convention takes place every October in Kelowna, BC, and Vancouver hosts the Pacific Dental Convention every March. I would like to seek out and attend instructing conferences as well. Finally, in addition to being a life-long learner to keep myself engaged, I plan on remaining a reflective practitioner, and one of the ways I will do this is by continuing the reflections on my blog posts (Truant, 2018).

@ Please refer to my Resources page for works cited