Showing posts from August, 2016

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…

If Students Are Customers, What's the Bottom Line?

Stephen D. Brookfield, in his book The Skillful Teacher on Technique, Trust and Responsiveness in the Classroom (2006) states that skillful teaching is grounded in three core assumptions (p. 17), which are:
Skillful teaching is whatever helps the student learn.Skillful teachers adopt a critically reflective stance toward their practice.The most important knowledge skillful teachers need to do good work is a constant awareness of how students are experiencing their learning and perceiving teachers actions.  I would like to discuss each of these assumptions from the lens the learning experience. Jose Bowen, in his book Teaching Naked (2006) states “we like to think of students as our product rather than our customers,” (p. 217) and that we need to become more focused on designing learning experiences (p. 246). This idea had become a driving force in the curriculum design projects I take part in, and the teacher training sessions I deliver.

Give up Traditional MethodologiesThomas Robinson…

Taking Inventory: The Qualities of a Good Teacher

Recently, based on the suggestion of my professor, I took inventory of my views and perspectives about teaching. I did this through an online quiz (it's free!).

The Teaching Perspectives Inventory quiz asks questions about learning, motivation, the goals of education, my role as a teacher (as I see it), the nature of the learners I have taught, and the influence of context on my teaching.
It is designed to help teachers better understand the common perspectives of teaching, and how I express them through my own beliefs, intentions and actions. The results of my inventory were not a surprise to me, as I have had many of my students jokingly call me Mom. 
There are 5 Perspectives, but in this blog I will only discuss two. These two were ranked at the top for me and quite evenly scored in terms of belief, intention, and action. This shows me which of the perspectives is grounded in the philosophy of education I believe in, what I intend to accomplish, and what educational actions I u…

Reflecting on What's in Your Closet, Part 2

Back in March, I wrote a post that started with...

“Students who reflect of their learning are better learners than those who do not” (Barkley, p. 30).

To continue this thought, I would like to apply my original post about students integrating new knowledge into existing knowledge through reflection (scaffolding) to us as teachers. The metaphor below can be interpreted many ways. Lets take a look at what's in the closet of a teacher as it relates to critical reflection.

Cross stated in Student Engagement Techniques by Elizabeth Barkley (2009) that:

"it is rather easy to hang clothes in a well-organized closet and retrieve them ready-to-wear. The point he makes here is that this process is easy when you understand and implement the principles of organization for the closet. For example, shoes go on the floor, knits are folded on shelves, suits have special hangers, etc. He also says that if, on the other hand, you just throw things into the closet and close the door, it will b…

Perfect Ten

Picture this...At the end of your classroom performances there is a panel of judges holding up score cards. What numbers are you hoping to see on them? Fives? Sevens? Tens? Keep this in mind as you read the rest of this post.

We all want to be good teachers, and not just good, we want to have a high student appeal rating. Because of this, some teachers may have asked themselves, "what makes a good teacher?"

Quality teaching can be defined as presenting activities which bring about the most productive and beneficial learning experience for students and promotes their development as learners. But how do we know what activities are the most productive and beneficial unless we ask.Without feedback provided by students it is hard to know how to develop tasks and exercises that will engage students, foster autonomy, and help students see themselves as collaborators in the classroom.

Shor (1992) quoted in Brookfield's The Skillful Teacher, argues "the first responsibility…