My Personal New Year

I’m almost finished the coursework portion of the Provincial Instructor Diploma Program.  Once I am finished Professional Practice, I will have one class left, and then just the Capstone Project.

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This is a very old photo.

I’m also about to have a birthday, which is my favourite opportunity to reflect and then look forward.  New Year’s shmew years.  This is my personal new year.

It’s been a heck of a year.  I’m not sure that I’ve ever had a year of better professional development, as I just started a new job that will allow me to apply and work on so many of the skills that I’ve learned in PIDP.  I had a plan in January: I would be in a new position with instruction and curriculum development as the main focus by the end of the year (done by November!).  I also planned to have finished the coursework by now, but that would have been insane.  Plans need to be flexible.

I honestly thought that I wouldn’t learn that much from my courses.  I’ve done lots of professional development courses and it usually feels like as long as you show up and sign in on the sheet, you get the certificate.  Easy peasy.

Not so with this program.  I have learned so much, and most importantly I have learned what I need to continue to focus on with my learning.  I haven’t left with a list of “I can do this”, but more a list of “Here is what I will work on”.  It’s perfect… will give me something to do over the next year!

I Wanna Get Better

I feel like I have been faced with the task of examining my commitment to lifelong learning a few times during my program now.  I think the goal is to recognize the importance and value of continual professional development, even when it is hard or expensive or maybe even a bit of a blow to the ego.

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But, I protest, I LOVE learning!  I don’t need to go through this exercise!  I’m super good at evaluating my strengths and weaknesses and identifying opportunities for growth!  I never get stuck in a professional rut and fight against the idea that there may be a better way of doing things!

Oh.

So maybe I need a plan.  Once this program is over how will I implement the things that I have learned and how will I continue you to grow?  I found this fun little article that suggests that teachers train like actors or athletes, breaking down what we do into practicable chunks – and then actually practice doing them!

Why Teachers Should be Trained Like Actors

I LIKE this idea.  I can read and write about all sorts of strategies and techniques, but it’s the doing that freaks me out and that fear that prevents me from experimenting in the classroom.  But if I had a ‘facilitators’ workshop’ to go to and try stuff out… hhmmmmm…..

Accreditation and accountability

We want students to be responsible and accountable for their own learning, and even have them use self assessments to determine if they have met learning goals… but at the end of the day, who writes the rubric that guides their assessment?  Who determines if they pass?  Educators and administration.  Because assessment without outside guidance means a lack of confidence in results.  And isn’t accreditation sort of the same thing?

I am a professional, that works in a professional workplace, where myself and my colleagues are accountable and care about the quality of our work.  And yet we are not perfect.  We don’t have enough time, often, to check all the boxes for all the things… and sometimes we don’t prioritize important matters until they are, well, priorities.  For example, we had a gas leak scare the other day in our new office, and with the move and some staff changes, we didn’t have a health and safety protocol in place.  This is extremely important for the safety of our clients and our staff.  And yet, it hadn’t made it to the top of the pile yet.

We are currently undergoing an accreditation process, and our coordinator happened to be on site when we evacuated.  It was an excellent opportunity for him to identify an area that we are lacking, and to draw up a plan to fix it.

Accreditation provides us with guidelines and keeps us accountable – which is so necessary when budgets are being cut and staffing levels are tight.  We are human, and sometimes we need reminders of all the things that are important to the quality of our work.

Ethics in Career Development

I’ve taken several courses in ethical decision making in my field (career development).  It’s always an eye opening experience, as it serves as a reminder not to get settled in ‘going with my gut’ and making sure to break down my decision making process carefully and examining each step explicitly.

Going with my gut works sometimes – but my gut decisions will always be shaded by my privilege, my world views, and my ego.

Code of Ethics

Where Do I Want To Be in Five Years?

tofino hike I just started a new job.  Actually, I start in 2 weeks, but it’s an internal position so I’m doing 2 jobs at once.  Yes, it’s exhausting.  But it is worth it.

I work in career development, so I think about where I want to be in five years all the time.  My career is something that I manage very actively.  Subscribing pretty faithfully to Planned Happenstance theory means that I strategize constantly, arranging professional development and relationships to create opportunities for myself.  The effort and financial cost is well worth it.

But the real key to this outlook is to grab opportunities when they present themselves.  I’ve been working as a case manager for nearly 3 years, and when the opportunity to get back in a classroom and dig my hands into curriculum development full time found it’s way into my inbox, I knew that this was it.  This was my chance to set in motion the strategy for the next five years.

John Krumboltz’s Happenstance

Navigating 2 Courses at a Time

Hey folks!  I’ve currently got 2 PIDP courses overlapping (Instructional Strategies and Professional Practice), and they both involve posting on this blog.

So to keep things as organized as possible, I’m going to keep all my posts related to Professional Practice under the page link of the same name, above.

Please feel free to comment if navigation is getting challenging – I’m getting close to the end of the PIDP journey and so this little blog is starting to feel very robust!

***EDIT***  Nope, I’ve changed my mind.  PP posts will be categorized as “Professional Practice”.  Categories can be clicked on from the right side of this page, and I’ll be working through my old posts (gradually, obvs) to add categories to them.

I’ve Never Believed in Learning Styles

One of the discussion forums in my 3250 class has been devoted to learning styles… visual learners, tactile learners, auditory learners; what am I?

Sometimes I am one of them, sometimes I am all of them… mostly I think I am none of them.

Back when I was a student at SFU, I took a cognitive psychology class with Dr Bruce Whittlesea (Memory and Mind).  What I learned in that class, I’m now realizing, has helped to shape some of my beliefs in regards to learning.

Dr Whittlesea introduced us to the levels of processing theory of memory; essentially, if you process information at a deeper level, you are more likely to remember it.  Check this article out for a pretty solid summary:

Levels of Processing

How does this relate to education, and to my opinions on learning styles?  Well, if you think that the levels of processing theory makes sense, then trying to teach by putting information out into the classroom and hoping that students absorb it doesn’t.  Mode of presentation doesn’t matter so much as how deeply students work with the information.  Leaning on learning styles and teaching to them simply keeps us stuck in a world where the teacher is the holder of information, and the only way to take the learner into account is to alter the way information is presented.

I would actually argue that if a learner has a certain preference around how information is presented, maybe we should present it the opposite way and teach them how to take that information and then process it through their preference.  For example, I like diagrams.  I always want information in a diagram, but I understand content best when I draw the diagram myself – not when it’s presented to me.  So if you have a student that likes information presented visually, why not present it textually and get them to draw a picture of the information’s meaning?  That way you are acknowledging their preferences, but still getting them to work with or process the content at a deeper level.

How does that sound?

And if you like videos or Tedx talks… I agree with this one:

Learning Styles and the Importance of Critical Self reflection