Looking Back….

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This is my second to last course in the PIDP program and it’s been a lot of hard work, late hours and frantic submissions. From where I started to where I am now is a completely different place. I think the courses that really stuck with me were curriculum development and classroom assessments. I believe that it’s important to understand why were are teaching what we’re teaching and to understand if the assessment is congruent with the outlines. I work with instructors who don’t have this formal course and you can see that they lack understanding in the relationship between these. It’s not that they don’t have talent or aren’t good teachers they simply don’t know to look for a misweighted assignment or an exam that doesn’t follow the domains that makes a good exam. It’s a case of you don’t know what you don’t know.

I have learned that I dislike making digital projects. I’m not good at them and I don’t think I’m a case of practice makes perfect. I understand their value and application but they are time consuming and it usually takes me longer to do them than a power point or lecture. I will keep trying but I have a feeling they won’t take the primary focus of my classroom delivery. I also dislike blogs- a lot! I understand their value from an instructor view point but I don’t feel that they accurately convey what the writer may be trying to say. Not all of us are great at putting thoughts/feelings into words.

I realize that the PIDP program is merely the tip on a very large educational iceburg and it has me thinking about taking my Masters in Education. I like the idea of curriculum development and designing assessment tools. Of course I still have to do my capstone so we shall see that kills my M.Ed dreams!

I think the most important thing I have learned personally is that you can’t simply show up and teach. You may have the information/skill/knowledge but if you don’t know how to convey all of that in a meaningful and measurable way that promotes understanding, engagement and application then you aren’t teaching. I believe it’s naive to think otherwise and until this course this is how I thought. The other important lesson I’ve learned is that it’s ok to fail as long as you take the feedback given as a positive reflection and apply it to your next attempt. A sentiment I plan on passing onto my future students when they are feeling discouraged.

 

Staying Sane -Chapter 20

Brookfield (2015) describes in his last chapter 16 ways to stay sane as a new instructor. I will say that I actually found this to be the one chapter that really resonated with me. It allows us novice instructors to be forgiving of ourselves and to just keep trying. Here are the 16 maxims and my own take on them. It was a great way to self reflect my current and past classes/students.

  1. Attend to your emotional survival. Here Brookfield tells us that we need to take care of ourselves. By doing so, we can give our students the energy and enthusiasm they deserve
  2. Expect ambiguity. Basically, expect the unexpected and it’s ok to panic but you have to manage and be spontaneous in the moment. I think we’ve all been there!
  3. Perfection is an illusion. Thank heavens someone finally said it. There is a difference between perfection and experience which is probably what we newbies get confused with. We’ve seen those instructors who appear to just effortlessly teach but that’s experience and not perfection
  4. Ground your teaching in how your students are learning. We need to discover how our students learn so we can adapt our teaching styles, choices and techniques. Makes sense!
  5. Be wary of standardized models and approaches. The curriculum may be standardized but HOW we teach it is not. Each student, each classroom and each instructor are different so how can we possibly standardize approaches? Use the curriculum to guide your lesson and then YOU decide how to deliver it.
  6. Regularly learn something new and different. As a new instructor this one isn’t hard to do. If I have to teach a new course with information I’ve never seen before it can send me into a bit of a panic. Here is when I go to the experienced instructors for help and guidance. It’s also a good reminder that if I’m scared chances are so are the students
  7. Take your instincts seriously. This is where you use your “gut” rather than a set of instructions to deal with a situation whether it be a disruptive student, a negative tone in the class or if you are simply wrong and need to admit it to your students.
  8. Create diversity. Here is where we use different teaching styles to help create student engagement. It’s important to remember not all students learn the same or have similar education backgrounds. Adapt to the differences
  9. Don’t be afraid to take risks. Whether this is a group activity, lab exercise or whatever you think will help your class – just go ahead and try. You learn from successes and mistakes.
  10. Remember that learning is emotional. Your students and their successes or failures is linked with their self esteem. Remember that when you have a seemingly angry or frustrated student – it may have nothing to do with you.
  11. Acknowledge your personality. Basically be yourself and that’s ok. Trying to become someone you’re not can make you look, as Brookfield states, “inauthentic”.
  12. Don’t evaluate yourself only by students satisfaction. Let’s face it, we all like to be liked or to be known as the “good” teacher or “fun” instructor so when it doesn’t happen it can feel like a kick to the ego. You are not going to be able to please all of your students but you can address issues early, honestly and with transparency. This isn’t a popularity contest and it’s important to remember that.
  13. Remember the importance of both support and challenge. Brookfield discusses this as finding a balance between supporting a student and challenging them. We may have faith in that student and feel they need a challenge but if they aren’t successful we may both feel like failures.
  14. Recognize and accept your power. We have the authority of knowledge in our classroom (I dislike the term power). How we react to being challenged or questioned can be interpreted by the students in a variety of ways. We need to remember that our presence in the classroom and how we use that may have a variety of interpretations
  15. View yourself as a helper of learning. Brookfield states, “To teach is to help someone learn.” I really like this quote as it’s simple in it’s message. Our job is to put forth information in such a way that our students LEARN from it and hopefully apply that knowledge.
  16. Don’t trust what you’ve just read. Brookfield tells us that these are HIS maxims and that he’s simply sharing what he knows/has experienced/ etc. and put it down on paper. Just because we read it doesn’t make it true.

Personally, I dislike Brookfields writing. I find it overly wordy, filled with examples that seem to ramble on and then finally get to the point. This chapter neatly condenses what he feels is important and I have to agree with him. Being new at something isn’t easy especially if we are an expert in something else so it’s important to remember that we too are students and to go easy on ourselves. Time brings experience and experience brings confidence.

Accreditation

In the Practical Nurse program, we need to be accredited by two different groups – the College of Licensed Practical Nurses of BC (CLPNBC)and the Private Career Training Institutions Agency of BC( PCTIA (think paperwork processes). In order to be accredited, we need to provide proof that we are following the provincial and federal recommendations and guidelines.

CLPNBC is in charge of the provincial curriculum which clearly states WHAT has to be taught in the PN program, in what semester and the requirements necessary to accept a student into the program or the pre-req’s. We need to show that we are compliant with the curriculum in our delivery of education as HOW we teach the curriculum is up to individual institutions. Every 2 years there is a review of course and instructor outlines, staff  and students are interviewed, classes and labs observed and based on these it is then determined if we are meeting the expected criteria. Should we not meet some of these criteria they put forward recommendations  to which we must show how we plan to meet or are meeting those recommendations. Should we fail to meet these recommendations, they have the ability to stop the PN program at that educational institution until such time all recommendations and criteria have been met to their satisfaction. This process is usually one day but can extend to two depending on size of institution and number of faculty.

PCTIA is more about processes – attritions, registrations, comply with Basic Education Standards, and comply with provincial and federal standards.They usually do their accreditation every 5 years but do have the ability to do this more often if deemed necessary.  The caveat here is that registration with PCTIA is mandatory but accreditation is not, however, should your educational institute voluntary apply for accreditation, it puts your college in a higher standing. Through this process, student files are reviewed and checked against the information that was sent to them. Only relevant staff such as admissions, department heads and campus directors are part of this as, like I mentioned before, this is more of a process rather than a delivery approach.

This is an exhaustive and stressful process but necessary to ensure that all educational institutions, both private and public, are delivering the approved curriculum so that all students are receiving the same education. There needs to be these types of checks and balances to ensure that educational institutions are providing approved and quality education to their students and that they are preparing and graduating properly trained students.

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