Showing posts from 2016

Private Taining Institutions Branch: Forms How To

Inspired by a NACC Forum with Serge Buy I attended on December 1st, I thought I would post a how to article explaining just one element of the PTIB application process.

If you find that you are having trouble navigating all of the stresses of the documents, the requirements, the unhelpful and user-un-friendly language used to help explain things, then I hope this helps.

Here is a presentation I created (using Prezi for the first time) related to submitting New Programs using the PTIB application form. This is a quick guide, which includes a section for why your application may not get approved.

Check it out!
Navigating Application Forms

If it this has helped, and you would like to know more, please contact me to discuss the possibility of working with you.

Career Planning

Let's imagine your life as one long road trip. Where you are today, is not where you will be tomorrow, and maybe you have no idea where you want to end up.

My life, and my career feels like this. I look back on my job two years ago, a year ago, six months ago, or even three months ago, and I am shocked by how different all of these versions of my job have been.

I think about each and every lesson I have learned, whether is was intentional or not, and I appreciate the learning moments I have had. This makes me look forward to the future.

It's scary though - not knowing where I want to go. This brings me to the point of this post. I just want to talk about mapping out a career plan.

If anyone is like me, and likes plans, systems, and procedures, then this post will hopefully help you as much as I am trying to help myself in writing it. By writing this all down, I am trying to make myself aware of my feelings, more confident in my decisions, and more ambitious with my goal setti…

Seeing Things Differently

In the spirit of cultural sensitivity, I thought I would share an article from the Economist published on Apr 9th 2016. I have made no edits to this article, but  I have bolded some phrases below for you to consider and concluded this post with some comments.

The advantages of working in your own language are obvious. Those of working in a foreign one are subtle. More and more of the world is working in English. Multinational companies (even those based in places such as Switzerland or Japan) are making it their corporate language. And international bodies like the European Union and the United Nations are doing an ever-greater share of business in the world’s new default language. At the office, it’s English’s world, and every other language is just living in it.

Is this to the English-speaker’s advantage? Working in a foreign language is certainly hard. It is easier to argue fluently or to make a point subtly when not trying to call up rarely used vocabulary or construct sentences co…

Intercultural Communicative Competence

I have been working on some new Professional Development Lessons for teachers these past few weeks, which I hope to base some future workshops on. I thought I would share the infographic I have created based on the Government of Alberta's ATESL Adult ESL Curriculum Framework.

This infographic highlights 5 essential elements for building communicative competence, which include discourse,strategic, functional, linguistic, and sociocultural competencies. The infographic represents this taxonomy and shows how these elements are interconnected and how each helps build communicative knowledge and skills when integrated into curriculum and practice in intentional ways. The full curriculum guide can be found here: ATESL Documents

PIDP Top 3

My PIDP journey is coming to an end, but the life-long learning journey is sure to continue. To sum up what I have learned from my Professional Practice course, here is an infographic/poster I created.

If there is only one thing you take away from reading my posts, I hope it is this:

"No matter how experienced or educated you are,  there is always more to learn about what you teach others."

Hang it on your wall! Share it! Sharing is caring!

Surviving Emotionally

There are two quotes from chapter 14 of Stephen Brookfield’s The Skillful Teacher that resonate with me in my struggles of surviving emotionally. These quotes are:

“Classrooms are like storms or squalls – full of surprises, of unexpected events that throw our neatly conceived plans into confusion” (Brookfield, p. 256); 
“Unless you find a way to navigate the roiling sea of emotions that the experience of college teaching generates, you run a real risk of drowning in swells of frustration, dis-appointment, or self-loathing. And if you do go under, or course, you are of no use to your students” (Brookfield, p. 253).

This chapter of The Skillful Teacher focuses on an aspect of teaching not usually taught in formal education. Teaching can take an emotional toll on educators sapping them of energy, desire and compassion, which I have written about in a blog post entitled “Energy Vampires”.

The above quotes speak to the ever changing dynamics of a classroom setting, demands of students, and…

There’s more to Learn

The Big Think presented a video of the Global Education and Skills Forum in 2014. At this meeting, Bill Clinton was asked “what is the most important thing you have ever learned?” His answer was...
“the most important thing I’ve ever learned is there’s more to learn.”
One of my top ten TED Talks is by Adora Svitak and is entitled What Adults can Learn from Kids.  She states, “for better or worse, we kids aren't hampered as much when it comes to thinking about reasons why not to do things. Kids can be full of inspiring aspirations and hopeful thinking.”
She then asks a question that resonates with me, and makes me feel truly inspired even still. Her question was “how many of you [adults] still dream like that, and believe in the possibilities?” I had to ask myself, “do I?” The truth is that when I first watched this video, about 5 years ago, I did not. Well, I dreamed. I am a creative writer, so I am always dreaming about something. But, what was I dreaming about and what possibilit…

Want Feedback? I have the Answer!

For my digital project assignment in my Professional Practice course, I have created an animated video on Peer Coaching through observation using the website
I selected this strategy because it is important to me to attempt to change people’s misconceptions about peer coaching. I am hoping to convince teachers that the purpose of the observation is not to make the teacher look bad or to place blame, but to help. There are many benefits that go unnoticed because they are overshadowed by fear.

I learned that Peer Coaching, as mentioned by the Center for Professional Development at Peak to Peak Charter School, can: improve teaching practices and student performance,enhance sense of professional skill,increase ability to analyze lessons,help teachers understand best practices in teaching and learning,provide teachers a wider range of instructional strategies/resources, andimprove teaching performance. As a program manager, I hope to use this project to help change minds…

Letters to Myself

In this post, I would like to highlight a couple of blogs written by my classmates. Judging the titles of their blogs alone, I think you can understand why I am showcasing them here.

You can read the specific posts that inspired what I am writing about today here:

Does the Learning Ever End
Instructor Under Construction

I thought I would comment on this topic as well by telling you a story.

These posts made me think about an unforgettable experience I had with one of my English for Academic Purposes (EAP) University prep classes. I had been teaching this this level of the program for only a year, and it was a tough year. I felt lost, like I was an impostor, and I was faking it every single day.

I had a deep appreciation for this particular group of students though because they were interested in learning English just as much as they were interested in growing as people. I had assigned a presentation, and let them choose any format and any topic. They did not take me seriously at first. …

Lectures and Alternatives

I work with a group of new instructors who teach a career college program to international students. I have been analyzing student feedback, and reflecting on how to provide them with tools, ideas, and strategies to increase student engagement and motivation, while at the same time delivering the content outlined in the syllabus.

It's quite a challenge because the students speak English as a second language, and most of our college instructors do not know how to teach to this type of audience.

There are certain techniques that work, like structured discussion, and ones that do not, like reading the textbook pages aloud to the students without accompanying slides. Stephen Brookfield states the critique of lecturing is that it induces passivity and turns students into objects rather than participants (p. 98).

To comment on lecturing first, I will say that the students in this program, as an example, will be able to follow a lecture, and benefit from it. When we make the decision to …

Getting Feedback

Currently, I am research techniques for instructors to get feedback on their teaching. I am creating a digital project, to be released on the blog in the next 2 weeks, about Peer Coaching.

In my research for this project, I have stumbled across this article. Take a look! There are great techniques we can use for evaluation strategies and classroom assessment techniques.

Some of the strategies and techniques include:
Teaching dossiersStudent ratingsPeer observations (aka Peer coaching)Letters & individual interviewsCourse portfolios Research indicates that reflective and critical teaching practice leads to heightened enthusiasm for teaching, and improvement in teaching and learning, both of which are linked to faculty vitality.

You might think attending professional development workshops is enough. You get some new materials, and maybe you use them. You learn from your peers, but maybe complain that it wasn't helpful. 
The article Teaching the Teachers states "most teacher…

We're All Winners

About the IndustryAs a teacher in BC, recently, you may have you found yourself asking:
Why are so many schools talking about regulation? 
Why have there been staff meetings talking about "compliance"?Why is the school changing so many things?

This post is going to explore what's going on in the background with private institutions, like career colleges and language schools. There are different types of accreditation/designation depending on the type of institution and the programs being delivered.

Before I talk more about institutions who have lost their accreditation, or stories in the news, I thought I would set the scene for those who are not aware of all the things going on in the background. Here is some information about the key players in all of the regulatory bodies out there.
_____________________________________________________ About Regulation: First, check out the website Schools in Canada. Here, you will find a clear explanation as to why schools get accredite…

Right Vs. Wrong

As an assignment for my Professional Practice course, I have to choose a story in the media and discuss ethics. I have chosen a story that is currently in the news regarding a teacher strike at Vancouver English Centre (By Matt Meuse, CBC News Posted: Aug 04, 2016) and is still ongoing.

You can read the full article here: VEC Teachers Strike

Kidder's Model of ethical decision making and Four Paradigms for understanding ethical dilemmas is what I will reference here. For the purposes of this post, I would like to look at right vs. wrong through the lens of justice vs. mercy.
Institutional Perspective The article states that the ESL teachers' strike has cancelled English classes for 600 Vancouver students because teachers at VEC want fair wages, and the school is not negotiating with them.

According to VEC's website, their own refund policy states that students must submit written notice of withdrawal to be considered for a refund.

Their policy also states that once the prog…

I Showed you Mine, Now Show me Yours

Inspired by my Professional Practice course, here are my thoughts on my career and my future.

For the last 7 years that I have lived in Vancouver, I have been talking about my 10 year plan. This plan includes owning a winery, having chickens, and my own stairs. As I am now about 5 years into that plan and don't make wine, but drink it, and don't have chickens, but buy eggs, and don't have my own stairs, but have the stairs in my building, I thought it was about time to re-evaluate my life.

Currently, my job is quite demanding, chaotic, and fast-paced, but I like it that way. I am, and always have been,  a "fixer" and this is what I spend time doing everyday. I develop programs and ensure the organization is compliant with the standards set out by the regulators. I develop materials, and train people how to use them. I manage programs and I teach them. I graduated with a degree in education, and all this "fixing" was not part of my original career plan, b…

Teaching Diverse Classrooms

Let's take a look at the future of education shall we - focusing on BC in particular. An article published by CBC claims that "the International Education Strategy aims to double the number of international students and researchers — to 450,000 — in Canada by 2022 in an effort to create jobs and stimulate the domestic economy."

I believe this is a good thing. Sure, there are going to be skeptics, and people who believe they will have to compete for seats in classes, but I say let's get creative. How many different ways can we use the space we already have, and how many more teachers can we hire, if our enrollments are increasing. I digress.

The numbers will tell you that diverse classrooms are the reality most teachers in BC are facing. Here are the stats for UBC, SFU, BCIT, and Langara.

International students make up 10% to 20% of total enrollments. This is helpful in keeping programs open and teachers employed I am sure.

 Teachers face an issue of their students not…

Tell me What you Want, Part 2

In a previous post I wrote about The Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) asking students to describe a time when they felt they were engaged and motivated when learning. The points the students mentioned were:
Take Me SeriouslyChallenge Me to ThinkNurture My Self-RespectShow Me I Can Make a DifferenceLet Me Do It My WayPoint Me Toward My GoalsMake Me Feel ImportantBuild on My InterestsTap My CreativityBring Out My Best Self We all want to give students what they want. Since this post,  I have investigated this topic a bit more and created an infographic to show 4 additional elements students value in teachers. Brookfield writes in detail about these, but for the purposes of the infographic, I have only included the main points. If we make an active effort to consider each of these aspects when we are planning lessons, I am sure students will feel the same enthusiasm you feel about the lesson. View here.

"Energy Vampires"

Have you ever walked into a classroom and faced and audience of students with a look on their faces that says "do you best to motivate me. I dare you." You leave at the end of the day completely drained from the "energy vampires", as I call them.

It seems that no matter how much you give, it is never enough, or no matter how much you try, your efforts vanish. I have felt this way and thought I was reaching a point of burnout. There are a few chance conversations I have had in my career that came at just the right time and changed everything.

The first change was inspired by a simple piece of advice that was "Shawna, if your students like each other, then it doesn't matter if they like you."

I took this to mean that if they developed good relationships with each other, they would want to come to class and participate. I could then focus my efforts on teaching, assessing and giving feedback; focus on doing my job rather than waging a war against motivat…