Tag Archives: Metacognition

Meditation for teachers

A PIDP 3240 colleague commented on my recent blog post (Online learning -> brain damage???), thanking me for addressing the topic and shared her views on the importance of meditation.  And she’s absolutely right!  In this world where we are surrounded by technology, our brains will surely benefit from a little bit of meditation and striving for mindfulness.  I discovered this website: The Mindful Teacher, which aims to help teachers reclaim peace and cultivate attention.  The website provides opportunities for discussion, resources, online courses, and even daily morning, midday, and evening guided meditations.  To start your day with a meditation geared for teachers, check out the daily morning meditation here!

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No letter grades here!

Here is a little further reading to my last post.  Apparently there are colleges that don’t give letter grades…not many, and none that I found in Canada.  But here’s a look at some colleges in the States that have innovative grading systems.

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Check out this article for more information on how they score their students: http://www.bestcollegereviews.org/colleges-without-letter-grades/

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PIDP (in)progress

I began taking the Provincial Instructor’s Diploma courses at the suggestion of my assistant department head when I was hired.  She told me that the college values PID even more than a Master’s degree, and subtly hinted that completing the PID program was a way to climb up the pay scale.  Although my motivation may have been kick-started with dollar signs, the financial benefits of this program are far outweighed by the educational benefits.  The neat thing about PIDP is that it’s really about teaching and learning.  The common thread in each of the courses I have taken is the importance of self-reflecting.  For instructors to continually improve, they must always reflect on their teaching and reflect on their learning.  The things we learn about ourselves, our students and our subject area must guide our practice so that we might always be improving.

I started with PIDP 3100 – Foundations of Adult Education.  It was theory-based, but far from being boring!  This course introduced me to ideas and terminology that have carried throughout the program.  Andragogy: the way in which adults learn…this theory created a huge shift in how I view post-secondary education, both in instructional delivery and in how we address the characteristics of adult learners.  We watched a pretty neat video on Changing Education Paradigms that really challenged the way I thought about educating adults.

I have also completed PIDP 3210 – Curriculum Development, PIDP 3250 – Instructional Strategies, and PIDP 3230 – Evaluation of Learning.  Who knew that designing an exam was so complicated!?  Just joking.  Actually, I’m not joking.  I had no idea that there were so many things to consider when designing evaluation instruments.  Reliability, validity, weighting the exams, the types of questions, etc.  This one was a lot of work, but very practical.

There was (and is) a lot about teaching that I didn’t know.  What experienced instructors make look very simple actually takes a wealth of knowledge that the PIDP helps to provide.  From setting up a classroom to planning learning activities so that students are successfully evaluated in achieving learning outcomes, each decision is made with a specific intended purpose.  As I begin to teach more, I hope that I will be able to integrate what I have learned into my teaching practices.  Only two more courses to go before the Capstone Project!

 

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Feeling Like an Imposter

I just read an article from Faculty Focus where the author writes about her experience as feeling like an imposter.  It is a very relevant article that touched on many of the feelings I have when I teach a class.  Being a new instructor, I, too, feel like an imposter when I am teaching.  Quite often, I am actually younger than the students I am teaching, and I feel like they probably question my experience, qualifications and ability to teach.  And if I was them, I’d be thinking the same thing.

Take the Imposter Syndrome Test here: http://www.empresshasnoclothes.com/articles-detail.php?aid=520&cid=4

Craven (2014) describes the Imposter Syndrome as a psychological phenomenon, where you experience “feelings of inferiority and fraud, as if someday (maybe even today) your inadequacies will be discovered”.  She states that it is a completely irrational, and when I read through the rest of the article, I can see that she’s right.  I remind myself that I was hired because I have the knowledge base and experience needed to be able to teach a particular subject.  Usually when students hear that I have been a nurse for 8 years, they seem a little more convinced that I am not an imposter in the classroom.  When I also use personal anecdotes about my nursing experiences, the students really seem to accept me as being “qualified” to teach.  (But the stories have to be good – acts of heroism, cardiac arrests, wound evisceration….the better the story, the quicker you’ll seal the deal as a qualified teacher).  Colleges do not expect new instructors to be perfect, and there are going to be times when the students may stump me.  I do not know everything.  But that’s okay.  I think student’s a very accepting if an instructor admits that they do not know an answer and then finds out for the student’s by the following class.  In fact, this might even boost instructor credibility in the eyes of the students. 

I don’t think I’ll ever completely lose the feeling of being an imposter, and I think that this actually helps keep instructors humble.  Being an instructor is a privilege, and not something that I should take for granted.  I’ve got an obligation to continually prove myself to my students, the college, and maybe most of all, to myself, that I belong in the classroom.  But as I become more confident, I think Imposter Syndrome might begin to fade away … and I’m looking forward to it!

Reference: Craven, J. G. (2014). Overcoming the imposter syndrome: Advice for new faculty.  Faculty Focus September 16, 2014. Retrieved from http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/teaching-careers/overcoming-imposter-syndrome-advice-new-faculty/

 

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Unconscious Bias

A great talk on unconscious bias, how we can recognize it and how we can overcome it.  Very motivational!

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For My Children

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And how fortunate I am to provide this gift to others…

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More Questions than Answers…

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In a recent discussion forum for the PIDP 3250 course, colleagues posted about the ethics and issues regarding talking about their students. For the most part, the consensus was that instructors shouldn’t discuss their students with other instructors, lest we ‘taint’ their impression of the student. And initially, I agreed with this concept as well. But after reflecting on an experience I had in the clinical setting with a group of LPN students, I learned that perhaps sharing some information with the instructor taking the group after me would’ve actually benefitted the student.
The particular student was struggling in many areas, but did well enough to pass the field experience portion of the clinical rotation. The instructor who was taking the group for 4 solid weeks asked me about the students and how things went. Being new, and not all that confident in myself at judging students, and also not wanting to give her pre-conceived ideas about the students, I simply told her it was a good group. When I ran into her after she had completed the rotation with the students, she said “it was a disaster!”
I thought about it for a long time afterwards…what could I have done differently that might’ve made a difference for this student? I think that it may have been helpful for me to have at least let her know that one student was struggling. Doing so would’ve allowed her to focus in on them right away to try and put supports in place to help them be successful. Would this have changed the outcome? Maybe or maybe not. And then where does confidentiality fit in with all of this?? (Research for another day…)

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Two Easy Ways to Encourage Metacognition

First off, what is metacognition?  It is, simply put, thinking about thinking, or being aware of oneself as a learner, and constantly reflecting on learning (Barkley, 2010).


An instructor can help to develop a learners metacognition with strategies to help information acquisition, integration and retrieval.

Two techniques that I remember finding very useful as a student to help me reflect on my thinking, were to create a mind map, and also to teach the material to someone else.  The mind map helped me to link ideas and concepts together and make them relevant to a “bigger picture”.  I use this activity a lot when I teach in the clinical setting (LPN students), and am trying to help them piece together a patient profile.  A mind map allows them to link together diagnoses, risk factors, signs and symptoms, pharmacology, etc.  Each of these pieces come from different courses they have taken, but the mind map helps them to synthesize the information and make it relevant to their experience in clinical.
Having students teaching material to their peers is another great (and easy) way to help the students improve their communication skills and also solidify their knowledge about a particular subject.
The article referenced below refers to ESL students, but the fact is, having students teach other is beneficial in all subjects.  “Students master material best and deeper memories result when they invest more personal effort into learning. […] Having students write a report on their experience afterwards raises their consciousness beyond merely remembering communication strategies to reflecting on the teaching and learning processes” (http://iteslj.org/Techniques/Ogawa-StudentsTeach.html).

There may be some concerns that students might lead their peers astray in their learning, that the information may not be correct, etc.  Therefore, it is important that the instructor is actively involved throughout this process, and can provide clarification if any issues arise.  And a nice side benefit to this strategy: students had increased empathy for their teachers!  (“I never knew teaching was so hard!”)  

Barkley, E. F. (2009). Student Engagement Techniques: A Handbook for College Faculty. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

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