Lecturing Creatively

lecturing

We have all had to lecture at some point in our teaching career- maybe informally or formally depending on topic and program. We’ve had to figure out ways to keep students engaged and make the content applicable and understood by the students. Brookfield (2015) outlines several ways to lecture creatively.

He  explains in chapter 6  why a lecture style should be introduced: to establish an outline of the material, to explain concepts learners may struggle with, to introduce alternative points of view, to model attitudes and behaviours you’d like to see in your students and to encourage learners interest in a topic. Throughout the chapter Brookfield gives examples of different techniques to use during a lecture. He suggests that using a variety of teaching and communication processes, to be organized in thought and presentation and to model the behaviour expected in the classroom. But what does all this actually mean for YOUR classroom?

For me, using different communication processes is important. I like to use various mediums of media such as youtube, power point and Facebook. I try to gauge the tech level of my class and attempt to appeal to that side of them. I find this helps keep them engaged and I can use their expertise in social media to propel the lecture along.

Organization is still something I struggle with mainly because of all the other life interruptions that happen daily! I try to outline my lecture to provide me with timelines and topics that MUST be covered. I insert what media tool I’m going to use with each topic and find relevant activities to go with the lesson that day. Of course some days I’m forced to “wing it” depending on my time crunch for that week. There’s a noticeable difference and it doesn’t reflect the behaviours I want from my students. I want my students to be organized, to be concise and to try to critically think their way through a lecture. I respond to each question or answer with a positive-negative-positive response. For example, “that’s a great idea but it doesn’t really tie into the main theme but keep those ideas coming.” Or I have other students respond to each other to reinforce communication styles and behaviours they want reflected back.

I think each of us needs to look at our classrooms as unique environments and we need to adapt our lecture style to those environments. Does one group prefer power point and another group activities – can we adjust our lecture to suit these classes? Brookfield also states that important to have students comment during the lecture to help us assess learning. By keeping the students engaged and interacting during a lesson, we can tailor the lecture based on these answers so if it seems there is a lack of understanding we can adjust our lecture style and find a new approach.

Lecturing is hard, especially when you have a difficult or dry topic to teach. By using various communication tools, being organized and showing the behaviour we want in our class, it makes it a bit easier to capture their attention and have them engaged.

Ethics and it’s many shades of grey

I think we have all encountered a situation where we had to question whether or not a behaviour or action was within the ethical boundaries we are bound by. We then had to figure out whether we were using our own personal determination of right/wrong rather than what has been mandated for us and if there is more than one profession involved, is this course of action mandated  by their professional body?

As we are leaning through our ethical dilemma assignment, not everything has a right or wrong answer. We are using our own belief system/moral code as a justification for our actions and/or decisions. But how do we know if our decisions are the correct course of action? Are we responsible for the consequences of these decisions? How do we know? Should we know?

As a nurse, we are taught that being ethical was next to godliness and above all else, should we break our ethical code, we had dissolved nursing to it’s basest form of ugliness. In nursing we have two main guiding bodies – the provincial regulatory body and our national body that helps to guide the provinces and their mandates. These two nursing bodies very clearly outline for us what is expected in ways of behaviour, decision making and the consequences that may arise should these guiding principles not be adhered to. Our decisions and actions don’t just affect us, but our patients and their families to which we are honor bound to keep as our primary focus.

However, this does not necessarily make ethical decision making any simpler. These guiding principles work on the assumption that all nurses are inherently good people with good intentions to do good work but they have taken out the human factor of previous experience. We, at times, do things that are guided by conscience and our own intrinsic moral code and may not be reflective of what is expected of us by our governing bodies. Is this wrong? Perhaps. I believe it’s important to keep in mind accountability.  We need to remember that any decision we make, we need to be accountable for – we must own our decisions and any consequences that follow. For me this is how I try to guide my practice and any “questionable” issues that arise: Is it beneficial to my patient? Will it harm my patient? Why do I feel this is an issue – personal or professional? What am I willing to be accountable for? I find that by answering these questions can help guide my next course of action.

I’ve included resources that nurses can go to to see if they are facing an ethical dilemma or a moral one and how to navigate corresponding actions. I think it’s important to remember that it’s ok to question actions and decisions, it’s ok to not agree with those actions or decisions but we need to be able to do so in a way that promotes healthy dialogue and that the focus is ALWAYS what’s in the best interest of the patient and their family.

 

Canadian Nurses Association Code of Ethics: https://www.cna-aiic.ca/~/media/cna/files/en/codeofethics.pdf

College and Association of  Registered Nurses of Alberta – CARNA (formly AARN): http://www.nurses.ab.ca/content/dam/carna/pdfs/DocumentList/Guidelines/RN_EthicalDecisions_May2010.pdf

College of Registered Nurses of British Columbia: https://www.crnbc.ca/Standards/ProfessionalStandards/Pages/EthicalPractice.aspx

 

Resistance to Learning

Brookfield (2015) discusses in chapter 17 on how to respond to resistance to learning. I think as educators we have all met some type of resistance when teaching a class – for me it was a class that the students felt was “unnecessary”. From the moment we started reviewing the course outline there was “why do we have to know this” and “this looks boring”. As a new instructor, I had a brief flash of terror and thought how do or can I switch the attitude?
In a less formal way than Brookfield outlines, I tried to find out why the students had such a negative initial reaction to this class. They had never taken this course before and it was the first time they had actually seen the content so I was a bit flummoxed to say the least. I also found it ironic since it was a communication course that I was teaching. The general consensus was that they felt they were effective communicators (needless to say they didn’t get the irony of that overall theme!).
Here is where I think Brookfield had a great opportunity to discuss student engagement in a more in-depth way but chose to just highlight certain ways to address students resistance to learning. He has one point that I found to be the most helpful and that was to create situations where students succeed. I think this is important for all educators to remember as perhaps we get too focused on course objectives and assessments rather than figuring out how to create a successful environment.
For me, when there is resistance to learning, yes you have to figure out why but then it’s our job as educators to figure out how to engage the students. What techniques may work? Are there activities or discussions that are a good springboard to catching their attention? For me, I gave the students scenarios from my own personal experiences/observations and asked them how they would’ve handled it. Based on their answers determined how I steered the discussion and tried to bring forward potential pitfalls that their responses could bring forth. My attempt at overcoming their resistance was to provide real world issues that don’t have a black and white answer. For this class it worked but it did leave me wondering how I could approach resistance to learning in other potential classes. Through this experience I found myself critically reflecting my delivery and learning new ways to navigate through resistance.

Here is a link to a pdf regarding student engagement that I found to be an interesting read: http://www.cea-ace.ca/sites/default/files/EdCan-2008-v48-n5-Dunleavy.pdf

 

Ch. 18 – Exercising Teacher Power Responsibly

Brookfield (2015) discusses in chapter 18 the power that both the instructor and students possess in the classroom. What struck me most was when he describes how “students watch us carefully to see how we deal with classroom events.” I’ve encountered this when I have had students who were chronically late  for various reasons. I could tell the students were watching to see if I would follow school policy and if I was consistent in doing so. Should there be one deviation from the policy, there would be murmurs of favouritism and a lack of consistency. Or students who handed in assignments late and weren’t docked the same marks as others. The list goes on.

The three topics he touches upon that resonated with me in regards to the above are transparency, responsiveness and consistently fair. Things that seem obvious but may not be so for some. Brookfield(2015) explains that by explaining the criteria of how the class will be run/graded, what the assignments are, students will be more willing to accept our “power” as it shows that we have no hidden agenda.  By being transparent, we show that we are who we say we are and to me, I believe, it allows the students to trust us which we can use to enhance student engagement.

How we deal with student concerns and that we follow up/through with what we said we will do is responsiveness according to Brookfiled(2015). Should we not follow through or change the rules half way through without notice to the students, we will lose our credibility (I prefer this term over power) and our classroom management may not be as effective as it could/should be. Students will then have the “power” shifted to them as they will feel that they are not being heard and may not bring concerns forward to you directly but may go above you to discuss issues which may have negative consequences on your career and class.

Being consistently fair, to me, is the most important theme in this chapter. At my college, the nursing students have a handbook which I review in great detail and ensure that all students understand their handbook and know that I will follow the policies outlined. Here I believe that I am being transparent and responsive with my classroom as it shows that I understand the policies, will adhere to the policies, address any student concerns or questions up front and promptly and that all students are being held to the same standard. By demonstrating that I am consistent in following and applying the policies fairly, the students learn early on that I am true to my word and my credibility seems to go up.

As instructors/educators, we do hold the majority of power as we are the content experts. However, the students also have a share in the power  as they can shift the mood/focus/direction of class participation, discussions, group activities which can interrupt your classroom management style and interrupt student engagement.

At the end of the day, by being fair, ethical and honest with your students, you really can’t go wrong.

 

Brookfield, S. (2015). The Skillful Teacher. On technique, trust and responsiveness in the classroom. (3rd. edition). San Francisco, CA; Jossey-Bass

Brookfield Ch.2 -Core Assumptions of Skillful Teaching

Brookfield (2015) discusses the 4 assumptions of skillful teaching: 1. Skillful teaching is whatever helps the students learn;  2. Skillful teachers adopt a critically reflective stance;   3. …Constant awareness of how students are experiencing their learning and perceiving their teachers’ actions and; 4.  College students of any age should be treated as adults.

I can identify most with the second assumption and the adoption of a critical reflection stance. I believe that as educators, or even in our regular jobs,we need to be able to self reflect in order to assess situations/experiences and gain insight from them for the next time and understand why we did/said what we did any any corresponding consequences. By analyzing our own behaviour and thoughts, I believe it allows us to understand or at least be open to understanding other points of view, beliefs and attitudes. Trent University (n.d.) states “…you can appreciate the ideas of others, notice how their assumptions and preconceived ideas may have shaped their thoughts, and perhaps recognize how your ideas support or oppose what you read.”

As adult educators, I believe that we need to always be critically reflective as this will allow us to embrace and enhance the other 3 assumptions mentioned. We need to look at each class as  unique and perhaps we need to adjust our teaching style to ensure the whole class is learning and engaged. How the students are experiencing their learning also comes from reflection – we’ve all had classes where the “click” just wasn’t there – was it how we delivered the information? The topic? As well, we need to remind ourselves that though are students are young at the subject, they are indeed adults and to treat them other than that can affect how they learn or perceive their learning.

Erika

 

Brookfield, S. (2015). The skillful teacher: On technique, trust and responsiveness in the classroom. San Francisco, CA; Jossey-Bass

Trent University (n.d). How do I…..Write a reflection? Retrieved from  https://www.trentu.ca/academicskills/documents/Reflectivewriting.pdf

 

Brookfields’ Experience Teaching: Chapter 1

As a new educator I find I am always looking for guidelines, policies, protocols, etc., to help me find my way or figure out what it is exactly I’m supposed to be doing. I like to see examples of what other people have done as a springboard for ideas to use in my lessons. Sometimes this works and sometimes not – very student/class specific as I have learned.

When reading chapter 1, I like how Brookfield (2006, pg. 2) states, “Muddling through is about all you can do when no clear guidelines exist to help you deal with unexpected contingencies.”  I have to say this made me feel somewhat better as there are days when it seems like I am doing nothing but muddling through which at times made me feel like I wasn’t prepared enough or even suited for teaching.

We all have different experiences that allow us to adapt to certain situations and Brookfield (2006) calls this informed practical reasoning. We have to learn to assess a situation – key player, key issues, etc. Once this has been done there is the need to quickly understand what the underlying issue may be and then act upon it based on our past experiences (if we’re (un)lucky enough to have been there before) and guiding policies already in place. I think though, that Brookfield should’ve included self-reflection as a fourth step. I believe we do this unconsciously after a situation when we do the what-if-shoulda-coulda-woulda of our actions or words but sometimes, it’s helpful for someone to put into words what I’m already doing so that I can see I’m on the right track or if I’m not, how to get back on it.

To be honest, I’m not a fan of Brookfields’ writing – he’s very….wordy and I prefer succint. However, through all the metaphors and personal experiences he shares, I have found some great gems in what he has to say. Perhaps this is because I have more teaching experience or am almost done PIDP but I am now looking forward to reading more The Skillful Teacher.

 

Erika

PIDP 3260 – Professional Practice

Hi! I’m Erika and welcome to my PIDP blog. This post is about my PIDP 3260 class which is all about Professional Practice and what that means/looks like as an educator in adult education. I’m really excited to do this course because as a nurse, this is something that has a huge amount of influence over my career. We are introduced to professional practice in nursing school and it remains a career long learning experience. As well, nurses have a code of ethics we are expected to adhere to and any deviation is met with serious consequences. Luckily nurses have regulatory bodies that help guide us in what professional practice looks like and with the ever changing landscape of social media, we need to have something to guide us through these murky waters.

As this diploma program is geared towards adult learners, I’m curious as to how people interpret professional practice and what it looks like in their classroom. As we are teaching adults, where is the fine line between being professional and being friendly? How can we maintain professionalism and engage students? What are some pitfalls new instructors fall in to and how do they manage these situations?

I have so many questions and am really very interested in seeing what my classmates have to say about professional practice. I think it’s going to be a really great couple of months!

 

Erika

Hattie’s 8 Mindframes

Throughout PIDP 3250 there has been new ideas and resources for me to examine and research. One of the topics/themes that has come up is Hattie’s 8 Mindframes – something I had never heard of before so I decided to go searching. Here is what I found and I included my responses to the 8 Mindframes:

  1. My fundamental task is to evaluate the effect of my teaching on students’ learning and achievement.
    1. I use Minute Papers for some classes to get student feedback. It allows me to see where things went right/wrong or actually worked!  It helps to guide my lessons and information to include/remove
  2. The success and failure of my students’ learning is about what I do or don’t do. I am a change agent.
    1. I agree with this up to a point but shouldn’t students, especially adults take some ownership of their learning experience – success and failures? 
  3. I want to talk more about learning than teaching.
    1. We need to learn with our students and discover how to engage them. During some lessons I tell the students about what I learned in a similar situation to help make the point. When I do my lessons, I try to see what is new information, what it means to me and how can I apply it to the class in a way all will understand/relate. 
  4. Assessment is about my impact.
    1. I agree to a point but I still refer back to ownership for both the student and myself. I understand how or what I teach can influence the student and perhaps their engagement but shouldn’t they shoulder some of the responsibility when it comes to their learning?
  5. I teach through dialogue not monologue.
    1. To me this is facilitation rather than lecture. To include the class in their learning which help me to evaluate understanding/comprehension of their knowledge and assess if I’m on the right path of instructional delivery. 
  6. I enjoy the challenge and never retreat to “doing my best”.
    1. I think we should start with “doing my best” and go up from there. You can always learn to do something better, more efficiently, etc. 
  7. It’s my role to develop positive relationships in class and staffrooms.
    1. A positive attitude about what you are teaching translates into student learning. Enthusiasm and an obvious love of the subject I have found, makes the students interested in knowing why it makes me so happy (especially when they find the topic less than interesting). The same goes with staff – positive relationships with staff can only help you when you need it. How often have you offered to help the negative person in your office? 
  8. I inform all about the language of learning
    1. My interpretation of language of learning is about communication. How we communicate – which includes active listening and asking questions related to the topic. I do speak to my students about active listening – are they actually hearing what is being said. Questions asked – before asking the question, did we cover that material already? Are you looking for clarification? Is there misunderstanding? It’s also my job to clarify the question and engage the student in critical thinking. Allow them the opportunity to figure it out by using guiding questions. 

There is so much information out there about how we should assess our teaching, how to engage our students, how to evaluate learning that it can be a bit overwhelming. For me, I will continue to search for these things and perhaps find a common theme or idea that resonates with me. I need to be engaged in what I’m teaching, I need to be able to be fairly assessed, I need to have tools that can accurately evaluate learning. My question is, as educators, do we actually understand what WE need or is it all supposed to be learner focused? Can the two be symbiotic?

Reference:

http://visible-learning.org/2014/08/john-hattie-mind-frames-teachers/     Retrieved  on November 15th, 2015

Introverts in Nursing – does it work?

In the Ted Talks series, Susan Cain speaks out for introverts and states that being an introvert is “how you respond to stimulation”.  Monahan (2013) goes on to say “Often confused with shyness, introversion is an aspect of personality which affects how we engage in social activity and our preferences for learning.”  How often have you looked at the students in your class and thought the quiet students weren’t interested or engaged because they rarely contribute to class discussions? Or thought they weren’t prepared for class due to their lack of involvement? Are we as educators underestimating the potential of the introvert and mistaking their quiet contemplation as being unprepared? As a nursing instructor, what does this mean?

 

I have to admit that I’m more of an extrovert so I naturally gravitate towards those of similar personalities. I do enjoy my own quiet time, especially when I have a deadline that requires all of my attention. After watching the Ted Talks with Susan Cain, I came to realize that I do overlook the quieter students or at times feel that they are not interested or engaged. I am learning that this may not be the case, that in fact they are engaged but in their own way. They may be internalizing the information and need time to process how it will fit in with their learning style or whether or not they have something meaningful to contribute.

The problem is, that in nursing, being an introvert is not exactly a good thing. You are expected to be a patient advocate, to speak up when needed, to sit with families and discuss the good, bad and the ugly of their situation. I have watched nurses who were shy and/or introverted speak with families and it was like watching an accident in slow motion – slightly horrifying with nothing you can do. Nursing is an extrovert profession so now I’m left to wonder, how can I support my introverted nursing students and do they even need my support.

 

When looking at the information I decided to look at nurses who admit to being introverts do to make their career successful. George (2014) states that there are 5 reasons why introverts make good nurses: 1. Introverts are highly observant; 2. Introverts are good listeners; 3. Introverts are usually intuitive; 4. Introverts prefer depth to breadth; 5. Introverts are often soft spoken.  These are all things we look for in a nurse and perhaps as nurses and nurse educators, we need to look past personality (introvert vs extrovert) and the importance we place on it when students are caring for patients. Are we trying to mould the students into images of what we think they should be rather than what they want to be? Does it alter patient care?

 

I think the best thing I can do to help my introverted students is to ensure that they realize at times they will have to become extroverted in some situations and ask how they plan on doing that. Perhaps they don’t realize how much of an introvert they are and need time to self-reflect on their nursing practice as a student and then as a fully-fledged nurse.  Perhaps they need to figure out where they want to work and if their introversion will work there.  At the end of the day, I have learned that I need to be more mindful of the introverted students in my classroom and remind myself that quiet doesn’t always equal boredom or being unprepared. I also need to have my extroverted students pull back and allow others to shine in their own time.

 

References

Cain, S. (2013). The Power of Introverts. Retrieved from:                 http://www.ted.com/talks/susan_cain_the_power_of_introverts.html on Sunday, November 8th, 2015

George, L. (2014). 5 Reasons Introverts Make Great Nurses. Retrieved from:      http://mariannursing.com/blog/5-reasons-introverts-make-great-nurses/ on Sunday, November 8th 2015

Monahan, N. (2013). Keeping Introverts in Mind in Your Active Learning Classroom. Faculty Focus.           Retrieved from: http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/teaching-and-learning/keeping-introverts-in-mind-in-your-active-learning-classroom/ on Sunday, November 8th, 2015

Self reflection before self assessment

“By three methods we may learn wisdom: first, by reflection, which is noblest; second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third, by experience, which is the most bitter.” ~ Confucius

I thought that I would post about self reflection and self assessment as my instructor posted something online for us to read regarding how we are self assessing and referred us back to Blooms taxonomy (I’m guessing we are doing more of a “dear diary” than actual assessing). It got me to wondering if we know how to properly self assess and reflect. We are given rubrics to follow to help guide our self assessment but what else is involved? Am I basing my assessment on the work I put in or the work that’s put out?

I believe that before we can self-assess we need to know how to self reflect on the process and product of learning. Self reflection isn’t easy to do and there are a lot of models of how to reflect depending on what the focus is – learning, nursing, teaching, etc. In PIDP 3250 there seems to be a lot of self assessment  in order to show higher levels of understanding or metacognition. If  I’m going to show how I’m assessing my work then I need to self reflect before I can be objective. Luckily in nursing, from the time you start school it’s all about the self reflection. Here are some strategies when starting the self reflection process:

  • Preparation – when you enter into a new experience, try to identify opportunities for reflection.
  • Understanding – you need to know what the goals and expectations of critical reflection are.
  • Time to stop and think.
  • A level of objectivity about yourself and the impact of your actions.
  • Honesty.
  • An open, non-defensive attitude to the experience.
  • A focus on the deeper levels of meaning – moral, ethical, social and/or professional issues (Branch & Paranjape, 2002) in addition to your emotional response.
    • retrieved from http://www.monash.edu.au/lls/llonline/writing/medicine/reflective/3.1.xml on November 1, 2016

From there we can move to self assessment.  (Rolheiser, Bower, & Stevahn, 2000) tells us “that when students develop their capacity to understand their own thinking processes, they are better equipped to employ the necessary cognitive skills to complete a task or achieve a goal.”  This is a fancy way of stating metacognition which is what learners at our level should be able to do. So from now on, when asked to self assess I am going to sit down and write out the reflective process of the assignment and springboard from there to the assessment phase (and hopefully remember to use the rubric as a guide).  I’m going to use 3 guiding questions for my assignment: 1. What did I learn; 2. What did I find useful?; 3: What could I have done more of or better?

Rolheiser, C., Bower, B., & Stevahn, L. (2000). The portfolio organizer: Succeeding with portfolios in your classroom. Alexandra, VA: American Society for Curriculum Development.

https://www.cte.cornell.edu/teaching-ideas/assessing-student-learning/self-assessment.html

http://www.criticalthinking.org/pages/structures-for-student-self-assessment/458

http://www.education.vic.gov.au/Documents/childhood/professionals/support/reffram.pdf

http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/literacynumeracy/inspire/research/studentselfassessment.pdf