Feedback Strategies-Assignment 5

Here is a link to my presentation on feedback strategies. I chose a slightly different path with this one, instead of focusing on obtaining feedback from students I explored what obtaining feedback from our peers looks like. I hope you enjoy the video, please feel free to make comments!

Advertisements

The Resistance

In chapter 16 of Steven Brookfield’s book The Skillful teacher he discusses understanding students resistance to learning. I liked his suggestion to use our own autobiographies as learners to understand resistance. I have experience times where I did not want to learn from someone.  I have not even wanted to learn topics I am interested in from someone who pushed me to learn in a way I was not comfortable with, or that I didn’t see as a qualified teacher. Much like Brookfield quotes “Being forced to learn something that I regard as a waste of time, and that is taught by an incompetent to boot, is hardly likely to produce a motivated  state of learning readiness” (Brookfield, 2015, pg. 215) I can think back on a time, not in my formal education, but in a learning on the job activity where I experienced this very thing. I was starting to become a more experienced technician and was in charge of projects. There was a more senior technician working in the shop with me that I did not personally get along with. I did have professional respect for him as there were aspects of the job he was very good at, but our personalities clashed. I felt that he thought time on the job, previous life experience and above all being male made him automatically superior to me. He did not extend professional respect or courtesy to me and due to that I struggled working with him. The situation that occurred was I was trying to troubleshoot an electrical issue on an airplane. I was still novice in the world of troubleshooting I was struggling a little. There was no imminent rush to get this aircraft out of the door so I was taking some time to truly understand the system and what I was doing so that I could be come more proficient next time. I am a person who when I am struggling to learn something  I need to just sit back and think quietly. If someone comes to pounce on me and question me or rush me in this time I become frustrated and extremely resistant to their suggestions. As I was reflecting on the information I had collected about this electrical problem, and was on the cusp of knowing exactly what needed to be done to fix it my colleague burst into our shop and began harassing me about fixing it. He then declared that I needed to come with him and he would show me what needed to be done. I was immediately taken aback and furious, at this point had he even had good ideas I would have had a huge opposition to listening to them. As it turns out he was all talk and no action. He had no understanding of the problem or the systems operation and after I had told him numerous time what needed to be done to fix it he persisted on doing it his way. After sitting watching him flick switches and connect and disconnect connectors with no avail for 15 minutes I got up and started doing what I had originally concluded need to be done while thinking in the shop. As he ridiculed what I was doing, I was steadfast in my resolve and within 5 minutes I had the problem fixed. From this day forward any respect I had for him was gone and I plainly did not like him. Now I would never be rude to a student as this individual was to me, but the part I take away from this is to not jump in and question and “help” someone who appears to be struggling. Figuring out something on your own can be so valuable and satisfying and just because they are not figuring it out in the time I think it should take them, doesn’t mean that they are never going to figure it out.

Brookfield, S. (2015) The Skillful Teacher: On Technique, Trust and Responsiveness in the Classroom. 3rd ed. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass

Inappropriate Relationships

We are asked in assignment 3 to comment on an aspect of professional ethics. Immediately my mind drew back to a situation that occurred in my High School. There was a girl in my grade 12 class. She was a popular girl with many friends, but she was the only daughter in a very large family of boys. Her dad lavished attention on her brothers and was extremely involved in their extra circular activity of wrestling. This girl was into wrestling too, maybe because it was a family sport or maybe to get attention from her father. I cannot comment as to any accuracy there as I do not personally know, but am simply commenting from observation. One of our English teachers at the school was also our girls wrestling coach. He was a younger teacher maybe in his early thirties, recently married with a brand new baby. As the year progressed the girl started needing a lot of extra coaching in wrestling. I am sure everyone assumed that she was simply a passionate athlete, and he as the trusted mentor simply going the extra mile for a good student. As this went on people talked and made the typical jokes about this girl and the teacher being intimate, but no one paid much attention as it was just high school rumors after all. Then one day in the spring, weeks before the end of school the teacher all of  sudden had to leave. They brought in substitutes and one of the other teachers took over the wrestling team. The girl stopped coming to school as well, electing to finish out the rest of the year in home schooling. Everyone stopped and held their breath and waited for what we knew was coming. It wasn’t silly high school rumors after all, they had in fact been involved in an intimate relationship. He was found out through inappropriate correspondences intercepted on the high schools e-mail server and she was pregnant. Obviously this is a blatant example of violation of professional ethics. One which you would think only happens in movies and on TV, but it happened in my sleepy little town. I begun trying to search for the news story on this as I do remember it being reported on but I could not locate it. Instead a ran across an article written by Matt McClure for the Calgary Herald about how dozens of teachers have had sexual allegations filed over them in the past five years. Since 2014 there have been 334 complaints filed against teachers. Of these 95 have had sufficient evidence to be validated and of those 95 22 have been inappropriate sexual relationships. Of course this is not the only issue there have been allegations of abuse, pornography, financial abuse and tampering with student evaluations to name a few. It surprised me however how high the number of sexual complaints there were. It is such a position of trust and authority to be a teacher, especially when you are working with children and young adults that I feel using that power to elicit sexual acts has to be one of the most perverse violations. I found that The Alberta Teachers’ Association has a code of professional conduct and they do not come out and directly say teachers may not engage in sexual activity with students (maybe they assume that is just universally understood) but they do outline that there needs to be respect and dignity paid to the students. Taking advantage of a student sexually in my opinion is not showing respect or dignity, it is being a predator. This got me thinking about the issue of this in adult education. When educating adults you are still in a position of authority but your students may not be minors. I did a quick search and found multiple stories about university and college professors and instructors being charged for sexual misconduct with a student. So I looked in my own schools policies and procedures and I found that we do indeed spell it out in black and white.

“Employees and Others” shall not engage in any sexual activity or intimate conduct with any student over whom they have influence or could be perceived to have influence, regardless of consent and the age of the student. Because of possible adverse consequences in Criminal Law, such intimate relationships between “Employees and Others” and students are explicitly prohibited in all cases where the student is under the age of 18 years.”

I can see how this could be a problem though. Some people find authority very attractive, having power can corrupt you and being admired by someone can be intoxicating. If you mix any personal problems into the mix or a weak will power I can see how people can fall into violating this ethical principle.

McClure, M. (2014, May 17) Dozens of sexual allegations filed against Alberta teachers over past five years . In  The Calgary Herald. Retrieved from http://www.calgaryherald.com/news/Dozens+sexual+allegations+filed+against+Alberta+teachers+over+past+five+years/9848666/story.html

The Alberta Teachers Association, (2004). Code of professional Conduct. Retrieved from https://www.teachers.ab.ca/About%20the%20ATA/UpholdingProfessionalStandards/ProfessionalConduct/Pages/CodeofProfessionalConduct.aspx

Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (1996) HR. 4.2.1 Ethical Behavior. Retrieved from http://www.sait.ca/Documents/About%20SAIT/Policies%20and%20Procedures/Human%20Resources/pdf/HR-4-2-1_Guidelines_for_Ethical_Conduct.pdf

Me, Professionally Speaking

Currently I am employed as a full time instructor in the aviation programs at SAIT. I am starting my fifth year teaching in the program and can say without hesitation it is the best job I have ever had. It has many challenges and when I look back to four years ago to now I have grown immensely. The PIDP program has been a huge help to me and has really fueled my growth, and allowed me to develop so many necessary skills. I am very pleased with where I have gone so far in this program and look forward to finishing it this year. My goal over the next five years is to continue with my professional development by gaining my Master of Education with a focus on leadership in higher education. I have been looking at the program at Royal Roads University and at the University of Alberta. As much as I would like to start my master degree right away I am also looking to start a family so I do not want to load up my plate too much. From there I look forward to continuing to teach in the Aviation Programs, and should a leadership position come available I would consider making that advancement in my career. During the time between now and starting my masters degree I plan to engage in as many conferences, both technical and educational as I possibly can. I would love to attend the ATEC conference next year as well as the NISOD conference, possibly in the next two years. I also am looking to become more involved with SAIT beyond just teaching in my department. I am slated to becoming a mentor to students in non traditional careers here at SAIT. I have as well been given an opportunity to talk at the Women in Aviation conference next year which is an opportunity I am quite excited for. It will give me a chance to network and expand my connections within my professional environment.

Justifiable Teacher Power-Brookfield Chapter 18

In Chapter 18 Brookfield talks about how to exercise teacher power responsibly. He comments to the fact that as teachers we do have a certain level of power in the classroom which we do need to exercise appropriately. Abusing this power will cause discord in our classroom environment and prompt students to exercise power of their own. To think that we as educators hold all the cards is a completely delusional perception. At the end of the day we have a commitment to do right by our students, this does not mean that they will all love us and agree with all of our decisions, but we do need to provide for them an environment in which they can learn. Failure to do this results in students withdrawing from the learning experience, and with out their participation the classroom our “power” slips away. Of course long withstanding consequences of this can be punitive measures brought down on you by administration or at the worst loss of your position. Should it not escalate to this level you will at the very least be left with a hostile environment that you have to work in. Having to stand in front of a group of people who do not like you is a challenging and uncomfortable task. I have become more aware of the power I have in the classroom as time goes on, I have found from my own personal experience that approaching the classroom like a dictator does nothing more than create an ideal environment for a coup. Where as if I come in more democratic and fair I find that we work together and I gain their respect because they know I respect them. I have always chosen to try my best to approach my classroom in a manner that I know I would like to be treated. After all they are adults, I no more want to know that they wish to use the bathroom than they wish to tell me they need to use it. I have always valued Transparency and fairness as my main pillars of classroom management. By being transparent they know I am not trying to hide anything, I have laid out all of the expectations of my classroom and promised to adhere to them. That way if something less than ideal arises or changes have to be made they are way more apt to go along with them. They know this was not my original intention and is clearly something out of my control, and therefor they work with me to make the best of it. I also have found that by being transparent it forces me to maintain fairness. I know that I have personal biases and tendencies to pick favorites. I think it would be impossible not to. Some students just have personalities you  mesh with, in another life they would be a person you would choose as a friend. In the contrast there are those students of whom you dislike, they just rub you the wrong way and you cant wait to get them out of your class. This does not mean the student you dislike is a bad student, you just have conflicting personalities. When I have been transparent with my expectations, classroom rules, rubrics and marking guides it forces me to follow them and leave much of my emotion out of evaluating and dealing with a student. As an example of this I always require that if they have trouble submitting an online assignment they must contact me the moment it happens with their explanation, and then come meet with me before I will consider granting an extension. I ask this of everyone so regardless of how much I like a student or wish to give them the benefit of the doubt if they don’t follow procedure the answer is no. Likewise it prevents me from unfairly telling a student I may dislike no right off the bat. I found this chapter in Brookfield’s book to not necessarily be mind blowing and full of new concepts to me, but rather I found it affirmed that I am at least trying to do something right in the classroom. I think this is why I enjoyed it, sometimes it is nice to give yourself a pat on the back!

Community-Brookfield Chapter 2

In chapter two, Steven Brookfield speaks about his four core assumptions of skillful teaching.

  • Skillful teaching is whatever helps students learn.
  • Skillful teachers adopt a critically reflective stance toward their practice.
  • The most important knowledge that skillful teachers need to do good work is a constant awareness of how students are experiencing their learning and perceiving teachers’ actions.
  • College students of any age should be treated as adults. (Brookfield, 2015, pg. 15)

They are all valuable and thought provoking assumptions. The assumption that was very engaging for me was that skillful teaching is whatever helps students to learn. As he points out this does seem obvious. What are we all doing coming to these buildings every day if not to learn. I think that this is more of a challenge that some may realize though. Often I find that I like to do what is comfortable for me. I like to teach in the same manner I like to learn. My biggest failure with this is that I am doing the majority of my students a disservice because they are nothing like me. Our classrooms are diverse and becoming more so everyday. The borders between cultures are shrinking and the internet has really made our world a global community. You can now communicate just as quickly and easily with someone on the other side of the world as you can with someone in your own home. We as educators need to recognize this and work our hardest to be inclusive and understanding of all our students. It is a challenging job especially when you may have student who’s culture you are not familiar with, have a very good understanding of or possibly a prejudice towards. The truth is we are just human too with our own, preferences, biases and short comings and again we need to recognize this and overcome it daily. This is a very serious topic and I feel should always be taken seriously, but I am a firm believer that sometimes humor can help us relate or become aware of situations. In chapter 4 page 17 of The Skillful Teacher, Brookfield talks about the diversity we see in our classrooms. As I was reading through this section my mind kept wandering to the show Community. Now I will place a disclaimer that the views they express on this show are not mine and may not be for everyone. Like all good humor they push the boundaries on a whole wealth of social issues and there are discussions and jokes that many may find offensive. If you have a liberal sense of humor though I do suggest checking it out. As an adult educator working in higher education I have found many relatable instances and applicable humor to what I see and do everyday. I have included a clip from the pilot episode where the Dean of Greendale gives a speech to the students. In this speech he eludes to the diversity we see in our classes in a humorous way.

 

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

 Harmon, D. (Director) Foster, G., Kienlen, P., Krasnoff, R., McKenna, C. & Shapeero, T.(Producers). (2009). Community [Television Show]. Krasnoff Foster Entertainment, Harmonious Claptrap, Universal pictures and Sony Pictures Television.