Category Archives: Education

Power and Responsibility

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3260 Professional Practice Blog (Week 4): Exercising Teacher Power Responsibly

In, The Skillful Teacher (2015), the title of Dr. Stephen Brookfield’s Chapter 18 sounds like a Public Service Announcement: “Exercising Teacher Power Responsibly” (pp. 239-251).

Teachers of adults aren’t meant to stand at a pulpit and preach, that is so pedagogical: I teach, you learn! They aren’t meant to be authoritarian figures either. Educators have a responsibility to their learners, their institution, their profession, and to the public to produce successful members of society (dental assistants, nurses, doctors, managers, teachers, social workers, etc.). To do so, an educator must control the classroom, AND facilitate a positive learning environment where learners meet prescribed expectations.

Brookfield warns that “you can use teacher power to inspire, guide, and encourage, just as much as to punish, diminish, or massage your ego” (p. 240). There is  a lot of responsibility associated in exercising power in the classroom, and our intent must be to promote policies and curricula that are “inherently valuable or socially beneficial” (p. 241). He outlines systems that promote the facilitator’s correct use of power:

Transparency: Be up front with objectives. How I will use my power. Give clear expectations.

Responsiveness: Let students know that you will address any problem that arises, and talk to them about how you will respond (to concerns they’ve expressed). Use weekly “Critical Incident Questionnaires” (Brookfield, p. 34).

Consistent Fairness: Follow through on objectives. Create a level and positive ‘playing field’ for all types of learners e.g. introvert/extrovert.

Knowing When to Exert Power (Ethical Coercion): Identify the material that is crucial (mandatory) for meeting objectives, and deliver it with authority and civility.

When researching this topic, I stumbled upon an awesome PIDP alumnus’ blog post on Brookfield’s chapter. The blog’s author, ‘Thea’, includes a link from Faculty Focus that outlines the different types of power that a teacher can exert. Check it out: Different Sources of Power that Affect the Teacher-Student Relationship (Weimer, 2009).

Resources:

A Collection of Knowledge. (2017, January 27). Exercising Teacher Power Responsibly – a reflection of Brookfield. Retrieved from https://acollectionofknowledge.wordpress.com/2017/01/27/exercising-teacher-power-responsibly-a-reflection-of-brookfield/

Brookfield, S. D. (2015). The Skillful Teacher (3rded.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Weimer, M. (2009, December 22). Different Sources of Power that Affect the Teacher-Student Relationship. Faculty Focus. Retrieved from https://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/teaching-and-learning/different-sources-of-power-that-affect-the-teacher-student-relationship/

 

Screen Shot 2018-02-18 at 5.10.45 PM The featured image in this post was taken at Holy Rosary Cathedral in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Impostor Syndrome

Impostorship

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3260 Professional Practice Blog (Week 3)

In Chapter One of his book, The Skillful Teacher, Dr. Stephen Brookfield discusses “Growing into the Truth of Teaching” (pp. 8-11) from an experiential perspective. He explains truths as personal “understandings and insights” (p. 8) that stem from his 45 years as an educator. Brookfield goes on to list his important truths, and the ‘truth’ that affects me the most, and the one that I truly identify with is, “I will always feel like an impostor and will never lose the sense of amazement I feel when people treat me as if I have something valuable to offer” (p. 9).  It’s been somewhat of a theme throughout my blog posts that while I know my subject well, I’m panicked at the thought of ‘putting my money where my mouth is’ and getting out of the sanctity of surgery, and actively pursuing a faculty position in a dental assisting program.

What Brookfield is referring to is called impostor[1]syndrome. Executive coach and writer Gill Corkindale explains,

“Imposter syndrome can be defined as a collection of feelings of inadequacy that persist despite evident success. ‘Imposters’ suffer from chronic self-doubt and a sense of intellectual fraudulence that override any feelings of success or external proof of their competence. They seem unable to internalize their accomplishments, however successful they are in their field. High achieving, highly successful people often suffer, so imposter syndrome doesn’t equate with low self-esteem or a lack of self-confidence. In fact, some researchers have linked it with perfectionism, especially in women and among academics” (2008, para. 3).

Perfect! I am a woman and an aspiring academic. Fortunately, I know my stuff, so why do I feel like an impostor? Why do I feel that I don’t have anything important to offer my learners? How do I overcome these feelings of self-doubt? Educator Jennifer Craven experiences what Brookfield describes as well, and in her 2014 online article she outlines a way to overcome impostor syndrome: She creates an alter ego for her self-doubt and names it “The Imposter,” and then simply ignores it by telling herself that The Impostor is not real and that it is not visible to others. I love easy fixes, but for me, I think that self-affirmations in this regard must be continuous 🙂

References:
Brookfield, S. D. (2015). The Skillful Teacher (3rded.). San Francisco; Jossey-Bass.

Corkindale, G. (2008, May 7). Overcoming Imposter Syndrome. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2008/05/overcoming-imposter-syndrome

Craven, J. G. (2014, September 16). Overcoming the Imposter Syndrome: Advice for New Faculty. Faculty Focus. Retrieved from https://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/teaching-careers/overcoming-imposter-syndrome-advice-new-faculty/

👩🏻‍🏫For more on this topic, please check out my reflective essay on Impostor Syndrome posted on my 3260 page.

[1]impostor or imposter: both spellings are correct

The Final Stretch

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Featured Image: A lone runner on a long path

Hello PIDP 3260 participants, and welcome to my blog! I’m off and running and ready to learn about Professional Practice in this final stretch of the PIDP before my Capstone Project. I am a Certified Dental Assistant, and a lifelong learner: please check out my About page to learn more about me. I elected to begin the PID program in September of 2015 because I want to be an effective adult educator. In addition to studying at VCC, I work full-time as a surgical assistant in a busy Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery group practice in the Okanagan, where I also train and develop the dental assistants entering our specialty. As I wrap up my diploma, I want to share what I’ve learned in the PIDP (so far):

Foundations of Adult Education: There are many different theories of how adults learn. I teach dental assistants, so a mastery approach that is also learner-centred is required. Dental Assisting is a profession that requires the proficiency of clearly defined outcomes, and I want my learners to feel comfortable.

Lesson Planning: Be organized and have a plan, be adaptable, and create lesson plans that are transferable to a colleague.

Delivery of Instruction: Don’t be boring! Use all 3 leaning domains (cognitive, psychomotor, and affective). Be relatable!

Evaluation of Learning: Discover who my learners are (don’t ‘preach to the choir’). Feedback must lead to overall improvement. Do not focus on mistakes; focus on learning moments.

Media Enhanced Learning: Have some fun with technology!

Instructional Strategies: Try to engage my learners! Apply a variety of instructional approaches. Again, don’t be boring!

Professional Practice: I hope this course will help me become a more authentic educator, and I look forward to learning how to solicit feedback from my learners.

My PIDP assignments to date, are displayed on pages under the course headings on my sidebar as a personal archive, and as reference material. On my sidebar, you will also find all the links and resources that I’ve used in this program. I have included a Creative Commons license so that my work can be shared (if it’s attributed). Mostly, I enjoy interacting with my classmates, and I am learning a lot of valuable teaching tips from everyone in the PIDP 🙂

Screen Shot 2018-02-18 at 5.10.45 PM The above photo was taken while pounding the pavement during a visit to my parents home in Dollard-des-Ormeaux, Québec.

Flow

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Featured Image: Choppy waves and a lone surfer on a craggy beach

I am going to be in front a class tomorrow for the first time; I’m actually going to be teaching a lesson!! The mini lessons that I delivered in PIDP 3220 don’t count because they were mock lessons that I presented to my classmates and to our instructor: I learned a lot from that experience, like how NOT to deliver a lesson! That is, do not stand at the front of the class and recite boring information that ‘I’ think is important.

A recent PIDP 3250 class discussion topic has been on Flow in the classroom, whereas the instructor and/or the learner experience complete immersion and involvement in the task at hand and time seems irrelevant. One of my classmates introduced the following link from The Greater Good Science Center at the University of California Berkley:

8 Tips for Fostering Flow in the Classroom

And another classmate paraphrased the 8 tips (my intentions are in parenthesis). I will follow this advice tomorrow because the purpose is not how well I know my topic, it is how well I can convey it in an engaging way to my students.

  1. Challenge, but not too much (I can do that)
  2. Make material relevant (read my audience and do not ‘preach to the choir’)
  3. Encourage choice (allow learners to choose their activities: I’m not sure how this will work)
  4. Set clear goals (and give positive constructive feedback along the way)
  5. Build positive relationships (focus on learner-centred instruction, and be authentic)
  6. Foster deep connection (I’ll try not to interrupt the learning process if students are engaged in a discussion or activity)
  7. Offer hand-on exercises (got it)
  8. Make ’em laugh (either at me or with me: I will try to please!)

Wish me luck!!

Screen Shot 2018-02-18 at 5.10.45 PM I took the photo in this post at Wickininnish Beach BC. My daughter Rachel is gleefully shredding the gnar! If she can do it, so can I.

I’m Tired

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Featured Image: A tiny chihuahua engaged in blissful slumber

Sleep, you elusive and indulgent beast. I recently participated in a PIDP 3250 forum regarding the quality of sleep and our brain’s capacity for memory. Sleep ‘experts’ study the restorative effects of sleep on consolidating new memories into long-term memory: blah, blah, blah. I’m getting defensive about this because I’m sleep deprived, and it’s not by choice!! I usually don’t make generalized statements, but: I don’t think anyone chooses to not get enough sleep, especially the kind that the ‘experts’ say we need for ideal human functioning.

I’ve been researching how much sleep an adult requires, and there’s a lot of information available. Just Google© it and you’ll see what I mean. All the websites, blogs, and scholarly articles that I’ve read all agree that you need an average of 7 hours of sleep each night, and for an efficient rest, they all suggest reducing caffeine and sugar intake, reducing screen time before bed, and optimizing your sleep environment (comfort, darkness, temperature, etc.). But, none of the resources addressed OPPORTUNITY!!! Personally, the lack of opportunity to sleep is the number one cause of my sleep deprivation.

My instructor in 3250 talks about time management often because it’s a busy and demanding course. I need to work on time management for sleep (even 6 solid hours a night would be a great improvement).

I’m tired.

Screen Shot 2018-02-18 at 5.10.45 PM The above photograph is of my little dog in his frequent state of blissful slumber. He has the memory of an elephant! I’m so jealous.

Teaching Tips

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Featured Image: A beautiful waterfall in a rocky canyon flowing into a deep and calm pool

I can stare at a waterfall for hours, mesmerized yet attentive, and surrounded by the freshest air! A great instructor can be a metaphor for a waterfall: powerful and compelling, fluid, and contemporary.

The University of Waterloo Centre for Teaching Excellence is a fantastic resource for instructors, especially the Teaching Tips page.

I love that this resource is available online and available to use without a subscription. The fact that it’s free certainly does not reflect or diminish its quality.

Screen Shot 2018-02-18 at 5.10.45 PM I took the photograph at McRae Creek in Christina Lake British Columbia. I want to be like the waterfall 🙂

(G)Oh Canada!

 

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Featured Image: A lone snowboarder at the top of a snowy mountain

I’ve been reading a lot lately about motivation. My go-to is Daniel Pink’s Drive (2009). Pink argues that having autonomy is the key to motivation, and I agree: at work, at home and in a self-directed learning environment. Pink explains that rewarding people for hard work decreases motivation. He calls it “if, then” (if you do, then you’ll get – also known as the carrot and stick approach). This attempt at motivation takes the control away from individuals to do great work on their own accord, because it “requires people to forfeit some of their autonomy” (p. 36).

In Student Engagement Techniques (2010), Dr. Elizabeth Barkley explains that motivation requires two elements: expectancy and value. People must expect that they will be successful at performing a task, and they must value the work that they are doing (p. 58). I suspect that a combination of expectancy and value is what motivates our Olympic athletes in PyeongChang. I’m not sure if autonomy has anything to do with their success at the Winter Games though. These athletes must rely on family, coaches, communities, and the support of their country to excel at their sport. I suppose it’s autonomy that drives them to work harder than their competitors because the goal is not just to represent your country and your sport, the athletes are also trying to achieve a medal or an Olympic record. And these athletes must be motivated even when they are sick or tired or COLD or in pain. Such drive!

As a Canadian, watching the Olympics this winter, I’m inspired by the dedication and sacrifice of our athletes, and I am so proud of all of them for their motivation to represent us all.

2000px-Maple_Leaf.svgThe above photo was taken on a very cold day at Big White Ski Resort in Kelowna, British Columbia