My Journey Through the PIDP to Date!

Wow, it has been an amazing journey taking this course. I have learned so much, especially about myself first and foremost. All of the reflective journaling I have done has taught me so much about my perceptions and feelings. I was at first incredibly hesitant about the reflective journaling and really felt it was a waste of time. Was I ever wrong! Through the journals in each course I have really grown. I can see that I have developed better critical thinking, and self reflection skills. I can honestly say I am going to try my best to do reflective journaling as much as I can as part of my practice. This program has helped me grow and develop crucial skills as an adult educator. Of all the courses I took during the PIDP, 3230 Evaluation of Learning was my favorite. I found this course extremely challenging in the amount of work that needed to be completed, but I learned so many valuable skills on how to properly evaluate. It made me sit back and groan, because now I can see how bad some of my evaluations are and how badly they need to be changed. On the flip side I feel pride in the fact that I can identify these issues now and that I have the skills to make them better. Although 3230 was my favorite I can pick out aspects from all the courses in the PIDP that have helped me. In 3100 writing the essay was terrifying but it jolted me back into being a student and gave me confidence that I could do it. 3210 I did in a face to face format, and that was a great experience to have to sit in a classroom again. It made me realize what my students go through and have a better understanding of what the classroom is like from their perspective. Jacquie Harrison was a great instructor and I can say I learned so much just by observing how she ran the class. Brian Cassell in 3240 gave me great guidance on my desire to pursue my Master Degree. Lastly in 3260 I have really seen the value in the blog, it is a great place to just put all the things that float around in my head. This way they are somewhat more organized and I can be reminded of things I wanted to do or use by going back and reading my posts. All of the textbooks have been wonderful resources I am so happy that I have been able to add them to my library. Having the ability to connect with other adult educators outside of my workplace has also been very beneficial. I have gotten to see many different viewpoints and been exposed to boundless resources. I will strongly recommend this course to anyone who will listen. I have grown and developed skills that make me feel more confident in my abilities in the classroom and I hope have made me a better instructor for my students. Keep up the fantastic work everyone at VCC School of Instructor Education! If any one is questioning whether they should take this program or not DO IT!! You will not regret it, any sacrifice you have to make will be well worth it at the end!

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Lifelong Learning

I am an enthusiastic believer of lifelong learning, and not just learning in my profession but in all aspects of life. Although I have no scientific proof to back this up I think the more you have an interest in the world and the more active you keep your brain, and the better your overall health and well being will be. I think the moment we loose interest with our world we just fade away, or at least I feel I would. I crave knowledge, I love learning facts and having an understanding of all sorts of things. I fancy myself to be a bit of a renaissance woman and honestly if I had unlimited amounts of money I would probably spend my remaining days in some variety of educational pursuits. Simply taking courses which strike my fancy and gaining knowledge where ever I can. In recent years I have pushed myself to be more open to learning things that challenge core values and assumptions that I have. I have also begun to be more open to learning how to do something that I was wary of trying previously. One of the biggest risks I have taken was to pursue this career in education. Coming from a trade where I basically was twisting wrenches all day long and moving into a world of academia was terrifying and exciting. I remember asking my husband his advice if I should make this jump or not. He looked at me with this perplexed look on his face and simply said YES, of course you should! I immediately protested that how could I do this, I didn’t know anything about being a teacher! He simply responded with “you will do great, you are the smartest person I know. You are too smart to just twist wrenches you need to do something greater.” I did not believe him, but I couldn’t let him down so I gave it my all and I seem to be muddling my way through well enough. Once I entered this new world, learning became even more important to me. I realized a passion I didn’t know I had, I realized that I am fascinated by the human brain. How we think, why we do what we do, why do people act the way they do and how can you make this machine of human interaction run better? The more I learn about education the more I want to learn. Had you asked me 5 years ago if I would someday pursue a Masters Degree I would have said no way, now that is in my five year plan. Through all the research I have done and observations I have made I can see that professional lifelong learning is very important. As years pass and we become more comfortable in the classroom we risk spiraling into predictability and boredom. We become actors in an all too familiar play, where we tell the same stories and jokes and do the same lectures to a point where we could recite them in our sleep. As Brookfield adeptly puts “In such circumstances we risk going on autopilot. A certain emotional flatness sets in, followed by a disinterest in the dynamics of our practice” (Brookfield). If we do not challenge ourselves to learn how can we challenge our students? Brookfield also speaks often in his book to modeling the behavior we want to see in our students. We want our students to be engaged in what they are leaning, so by that respect should we not be engaged in learning as well. Knowledge is power and we are educators are here to empower people. The powerless cannot empower so if we do not have an insatiable need for knowledge, we will loose our power and  the ability to bestow that power to others. Learning keeps us from becoming stale and if we do not wish to buy stale food why would we buy a stale education.

Brookfield, S. (2015) The Skillful Teacher: On Techniques, Trust, and Responsiveness in the Classroom. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass

Moving to Learn-Brookfield Chapter 10

I chose to read chapter 10 of Brookfield’s book the skillful teacher because it introduced a concept that I am honestly uncomfortable with. The idea of using imagination, play and creativity in the classroom is not my cup of tea. Now this is not to say that I am against any of these aspect, in fact in my personal life I engage in all of these activities frequently, yet I am terrified by trying to integrate them into the classroom. It may be because I am a shy and introverted person the idea of having to move around and socialize in a group of people who are unknown to me is terrifying. As a student I hated group work, I hated being asked to get up and move around the room, I hated having to talk in public or share my thinking with anyone other than the teacher. I have also had very negative experiences in my past with all of these activities so there is this visceral fear of engaging in these activities even to date. I also have a hard time integrating them into my classroom because of this fear and my empathetic wish to not make anyone else feel like I did when asked to participate in such activities. As I started reading this chapter immediately thought no, no way would any of these ideas work for me. They are silly, the students will think they are silly, they would be a waste of time. Then I realized that I am setting myself at a disadvantage. By being to starkly against doing any such activities I am not exploring all the methods of teaching, and I am doing a disservice to those students who are not like me. I have realized that because I have had negative experiences with this sort of activity, maybe I can use that to my benefit. I can use more creativity in my classroom, but in a way that doesn’t run the risk of having fellow introverts like me melt down. I loved Brookfield’s suggestion of posing a question and then saying each corner of the room corresponds to an answer. Have the student move to the corner of the room that they believe represents the correct answer to the question. Then have the students discuss in this group why they chose the answer they did. Once their discussion is complete they will elect someone from the group to discuss their reasoning to the class. This way the class can see different views and learn from one another as opposed to always having me answer their questions. It will also help me visually see where I need to be more clear in my explanation of specific course concepts. I think this would be a great place for me to start with this. It is a very safe and mild introduction into creativity in the classroom, but as I become more comfortable I will be able to take more risks and make my class a more diverse learning environment for all!

Creative Lectures-Brookfield Chapter 6

In chapter 6 of Steven Brookfield’s book The Skillful Teacher he speaks to the benefits of lecturing. I enjoyed this chapter because I tend to enjoy lectures both as a student and an instructor.  For the subject that I teach often I find them to be the most efficient way to get to the information to the students. I know that I probably lecture more than I should, and I know I need to expand and explore other options with my teaching, but this will take time and the reality is I will always need to do some lecturing. It was refreshing  to have someone write a positive spin on the lecture and give some example of how to improve it as a teaching method. I often find that many views are against lectures, they have all these fantastic suggestions as to how to break the class up and have them debate on viewpoints and topics. Encourage the students in expressing their opinion about the subject matter and exploring concepts more deeply. This is all fine and good and sounds very interesting and engaging, but I find many academics that are making these suggestions are those who teach in fields that this will work well in. I have a hard time wrapping my head around how do I spur a productive discussion, where students can debate their viewpoints on a subject such as the operation of a landing gear circuit in an aircraft. To be honest it doesn’t matter how they feel about it and there is really nothing to debate. The landing gear works the way it was engineered to work and they are not meant to feel philosophical about it they just need to understand what happens to make it go up and down. When teaching something so black and white and that needs to be understood so precisely it is challenging to imagine teaching it any other way than through a lecture. I also teach some material that is incredibly dry and many students don’t find it interesting. I on the other hand do  find what I teach interesting, and I find that when I lecture my enthusiasm spills out and the students are able to drink it up. They see hey, maybe this isn’t so bad and useless as I fist had thought. I love the quote that Brookfield uses in this chapter “there’s only one thing more contagious than enthusiasm, and that’s the lack of it” (Brookfield, 2015, pg. 72). I fully believe this, and anyone who doesn’t just needs watch this clip below!

Now if this teacher from the iconic movie Ferris Buller’s Day off doesn’t turn you off the thrilling study of economics I don’t know what will. Like Brookfield points out in this chapter any method of teaching if done incorrectly becomes undesirable, lectures are not bad they are just bad when they are not done well. I really enjoyed many of the suggestions he had on making lectures more creative. Again some of the things he proposed I have a hard time getting on board with for my subject matter, but others I found would be very useful. The two things I took away from this was chunking up my lectures into 15 minute blocks and moving around more while teaching. I am going to utilize Poll Everywhere and the white board to post questions or elicit reactions about topics from my students during my lecture, just as Brookfield suggests. I also plan to move more as I teach, employing the idea of “lecturing from Siberia” (Brookfield, 2015, pg. 74) as he put it in his book. I will set up visual aids or demonstrations in non traditional areas of the classroom in order to better facilitate this concept and reach all of the students in my class equally. I have gotten some great inspiration from this chapter and am excited to start using them in my classroom this fall.

Brookfield, S. (2015) The Skillful Teacher: On Techniques, Trust, and Responsiveness in the Classroom. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass

Huges, J.(Director)& Paramount Pictures (Producer). (1986) Ferris Buller’s Day Off [Motion Picture] Los Angeles, CA: Paramount Pictures.

 

 

Accreditation

Accreditation, like anything, can be good and bad. I do teach in a program that is accredited by two external bodies. We hold both a Transport Canada accreditation to be an approved training program for Aircraft Maintenance Engineers as well as accreditation from the Canadian Council for Aviation and Aerospace (CCAA). In order to maintain accreditation we must adhere to the strict standards that are laid out in the Canadian Aviation Regulations (CARs). Our curriculum has to follow what they have determined must be taught and we have to show traceability and validity of our evaluation of student learning. The good part about this is we have a definite framework that we need to work inside. We have rules and regulations to follow so there is a great deal of consistency in our programs. The bad part about it is we have a framework that we must work inside. This can limit our ability to change things up, teach the latest and greatest or implement non traditional methods of evaluation of learning. There is a very comprehensive set of requirements that we must meet and maintain over and above just our curriculum and evaluation process.

http://www.tc.gc.ca/eng/civilaviation/regserv/cars/part5-standards-chapter566-259.htm

This whole chapter in the regulations is dedicated to licensing of aircraft maintenance engineers and training organizations. We have to ensure stringent conformance to all of the regulations and standards. We have to have a manual laying out all of the policies and procedures we are going to follow in order to maintain that conformance and we need to have a quality assurance system to ensure that every thing is working exactly as it is supposed to. This is all in addition to all the policies and procedures and any quality assurance programs our institution has in place.  If we do not maintain conformance we can have our certification pulled when we are audited by Transport Canada. This is a very serious issue for us, once you lose certification it is incredibly hard to have it reinstated. Essentially the loss of accreditation could possibly mean the loss of our programs. Without being accredited there is no incentive for students to come to our school. Safety is the prime concern for our standards being so strict. Once a student graduates from our program and meets all the necessary requirements they are credited time spent towards getting their maintenance engineers license. Meaning they will be licensed faster and able to independently maintain aircraft sooner. The requirements for graduation with accreditation are students must maintain a 70% in every course and 95% attendance for the two years they are here. Aviation can be a dangerous business and all of the rules are in place for the safety of the public. Due to the fact we are training the next generation of individuals that will be fixing the aircraft you want to take to go on vacation, we need to maintain strict rules as well.