3260 Professional Practice Blog (Week 7): Brookfield, Chapter 6 Creative Lecturing

Lecturing Creatively

In my line of work, lecturing is an important component of theory introduction. I can assign readings, have learners watch videos, enact demonstrations, and stimulate discussion, but ultimately I need to spend time describing content to my learners in the form of a lecture. This is not to say that a combination of the above cannot be combined with a good lecture. Stephen Brookfield (2015) writes that, “the challenge is to make our lectures as helpful, enlivening, and critically stimulating as possible” (p. 70): I want to add memorable to this list.

I recently taught a class for the first time on a topic that is critical to healthcare: Preventing Healthcare Associated Infections. I talked about the pathogens that can survive on hard surfaces in the dental office, and the importance of a proper sterile technique. Brookfield outlines the reasons for lecturing (2015) and unbeknownst to me at the time, I followed his directives:

– introduce material (aka: objective and goal of lecture)

– explain difficult or abstract concepts (pathogens are microscopic!)

– introduce alternative interpretations (acknowledge diverse learning styles)

– model intellectual attitudes and expectations (place value on the topic)

– encourage learners’ interest (keep them entertained!)

The entertainment portion of my lecture consisted of student volunteers blowing whistles every time I contaminated something (touched something that I wasn’t supposed to touch) in a mock operatory. I managed to stump the students once, and they also ‘blew the whistle’ on me numerous times. Brookfield argues that deconstructing what an instructor has previously communicated is key to understanding; I also hope my demonstration was memorable and engaging.

Brookfield states that “varying the communication styles and modalities you use in a lecture has long been argued as an essential component of good practice” (2015, p. 73). I agree. I came across this fantastic website on how to engage learners during PIDP 3250 (Instructional Strategies): Tecknologic – Learn. Try. Share. It is a fantastic resource with free downloads for many virtual games that can supplement a lecture. The latest download is a Power Point spinning wheel that can be customized. A vocabulary review is one suggestion, and it looks like fun! And, what a great way for learners to remember terminology! Brookfield’s final statement in Chapter 6 will encourage me to continue to incorporate a variety of elements into my future lectures, “Well-situated presentations can be crucial to students’ development as learners” (2015, p. 82).

References:

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

tecknologic. (2018, April 30). The Spinning Wheel 2018. technologic.wordpress.com. Retrieved from https://tekhnologic.wordpress.com/2018/04/30/the-spinning-wheel-2018/

 

Screen Shot 2018-02-18 at 5.10.45 PM Brookfield forgot to mention how much fun creative lecturing can be for the instructor 🙂

3260 Professional Practice Blog (Week 5): Understanding and Responding to Student’s Resistance to Learning

Alternate Title: Value and Expectancy

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“As teachers we see clearly the value of learning and we all too easily assume students can see this too. The reason that certain understandings or skills are important is so obvious to us that we may feel they need minimal justification” (Brookfield, 2015, p. 234).

I am relieved that Stephen Brookfield expresses this sentiment. I have experienced firsthand similar frustration when I delegate a ‘duty’ to my learners, and they respond with apprehension: “I don’t feel comfortable performing that duty,” or “I don’t know what to do.” I take full responsibility in these circumstances: did I not place sufficient VALUE on the instruction of said duty? Is my learner EXPENTANCY unjustified?

I want to go slightly off topic and talk about my mentor and recently retired coworker, Marjorie Dunahoo. Marjie drove me crazy over the years trying to infuse me with all the knowledge, wisdom, and skills that she was driven to convey following decades of experience, and a work ethic that few possess. It was easy to dismiss her directives if I was uncomfortable with a task, OR, if I did not place value in her instruction. [Silly me]. ‘Reinventing the wheel’ is a waste of energy. I am not saying that discovering new and more efficient ways of doing the same thing is not important, but, there is a reason why ‘tried and true’ systems exist.

That said, “a common reason for resisting learning is misdiagnosing where students are in their command of skills and knowledge,” translates into: know your audience and do not ‘preach to the choir’ and do not “[push] them into a task before they feel they’ve been adequately prepared” (Brookfield, 2015, p. 224).

All I know is that some learners want to learn and others do not; you cannot convince people otherwise. Why someone would choose a vocation, or register in a course that they don’t care about is not my concern, and it’s a waste of my precious time trying to figure out how to engage these learners. I have experienced learners who refuse to write things down after I specifically tell them, “you need to write this down.”

I digress. Back to Marjie. Marjie cared, and as annoying as that was at times when she would tell me stuff that I already knew, she knew her stuff, and perhaps she recognized a discrepancy in me that warranted her harping.

So, I’m going to continue to harp, like Marjie did: unapologetically. After all, there’s a reason why Marjie was a dental assistant for over four decades; it’s because she was good at it. And, as annoying as her direction was at times, and as equally as recalcitrant as I was, I learned an immeasurable amount of valuable material from her, as much I (at times) resisted.

Resources:

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

Wikipedia. (2018, February 14). Expectancy-value theory. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Expectancy-value_theory

 

Screen Shot 2018-02-18 at 5.10.45 PM The above photo depicts an incredibly difficult X-ray to capture, and one in which, Marjie mastered (aka ‘nailed’). The face-shield, lead apron, and ‘thumbs up’ are directives for future discussion 😉

 

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

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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.

3260 Professional Practice Blog (Week 3): Impostor Syndrome

Impostorship

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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.

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 🙂