Tag Archives: Personalities

Guest Blogger

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted, and this time I’m doing something different!

I’d like to introduce a guest blogger – my husband, Paul.  It’s interesting that we’ve been simultaneously working on our teaching diplomas…only mine was for adult education, and he is focusing on secondary education.  We’ve had lots of great discussions about pedagogy vs. andragogy, how to engage learners, and what makes teachers awesome.  Paul needed to write a few blog posts for his current field experience, and I thought this was a cool opportunity for us to have our teach/learn journeys on the same page.  I hope you enjoy reading what he has to share!

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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!

meditation-1000056_960_720

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Taking the Tech Out of Technology

it20students20lab20classI LOVED this article!!  I posted it on our PIDP 3240 discussion forum and it generated a lot of commentary.  Peers were intrigued, interested and totally engaged in discussing this article.  In the article, the author states that instructors who were involved in the Virtual College at his school were actually not interested in technology at all….they wanted to learn ways they could increase social interaction.  Likewise, students wanted instructor contact.  Although we get very excited about new technology and great new tools, we still need to maintain the human connection.  The author sums it up well: “A blend of teaching practices, technology, and basic human contact just might be the recipe needed” (Buemi, 2015).

I tend to agree very much so with Buemi.  Although I like the options that technology gives us, I still like the human connection, between students and instructor.  Linking back to the hybrid course delivery model, this is a great way to achieve exactly the perfect recipe that Buemi describes.  Does anyone else see the risk of technology interfering with human connection in the classroom?

“Our excitement over the latest technology has started focusing on the wrong thing. It ought to reside in the praxis of teaching, not the tool.”

Source: Taking the Tech Out of Technology

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Effects of music on learning

1147531654The Mozart Effect isn’t a new theory.  The phrase was coined in 1991 and the idea is that music (specifically, listening to Mozart) somehow improves the brain.

In our PIDP 3240 discussion forum however, a colleague revealed that she prefers to listen to classical Indian music while studying.  Interestingly, this was not related to her cultural background.  I had never considered that other forms of “classical” music may also have some positive effect on learning.  I did a little searching, and it turns out that there are actually 5 recommended types of music to enhance learning.

Check them out here: http://www.trade-schools.net/articles/music-for-studying.asp

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Judging by the multi-million views on Youtube videos of “Study Music”, many people subscribe to this theory.  It doesn’t work for everyone, and it won’t work for all learning tasks, but perhaps it’s worth a try…

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Nursing: High-tech/Low-tech

home-image-1With all this discussion of bringing technology into nursing, it’s important to remember that there are some essential nursing skills that are very low-tech.  I kind of alluded to this in my post on Virtual Reality…these are the skills that can’t be taught with technology alone.  I’m talking about:

  • intercultural skills
  • interpersonal and communication skills
  • caring qualities (kindness, warmth, compassion)
  • etc.

Don’t get me wrong…we need technology to help us learn and advance, but we cannot be nurses without these low-tech skills.  As the American Sentinel University states so clearly, technology may be fine for nurses, but “technology can only work for patients when it’s combined with highly competent, relationship-based care. And this is why nurses must embrace their low-tech skills, as well as develop new high-tech competencies.”

To read more of this article: http://www.americansentinel.edu/blog/2012/05/30/nursing-skills-high-tech-vs-low-tech/

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Is school more about grades than actual learning?

Here is an interesting live debate, weigh in if you like!  Is school more about grades than actual learning?

I was interested in this topic after marking the first assignment for my nursing school class.  One student made the comment, “oh, we thought it was just an easy assignment so that everyone would get guaranteed full marks as a head start on their final grade”.  In personal appointments with more than one student who was unhappy with their mark, it was very obvious that they were hoping I’d change their score.  Yet, it was very clear when they questioned my marking, that they did not understand the assignment.  I felt then, like it was more the lost points they were worried about then learning why they had lost the marks.  importance-of-grades-to-college-students

It was the same when I marked the midterm exams…  I sent everyone their mark and also let them know what the average score was.  I received 4 emails back (in a class of 38), with students telling me they were disappointed in their score because they were anywhere from 0.2-0.4 points below the class average.  As well, I had one student who was disappointed with her mark – 92%!!  In fact, it was the highest mark in the class.  This kind of response from the students, with a focus on the actual score, rather than the exam content, made me question whether the course means anything to them, or if it’s just a grade.  Perhaps the assessment tools (exams and assignments) need to be re-vamped.  Or, maybe, as this article suggests, the students should appreciate the challenges and the valuable lessons they learned in college, and strive for self-improvement as a result of hard work.

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Teach teachers how to create magic

I came across this TedTalk today…I was initially viewing talks about teachers who take risks.  But I found this one held my attention – for the exact reason that the clip is about: the speaker has magic.  He has a way of communicating that captivates listeners, keeps them on the edge of their seat waiting to hear what he’ll say next.  Is he taking a risk by using his magic?  I think so!  Straying from traditional teaching methods tends to get a lot of raised eyebrows.  And how about the way colleagues may react?  (Could be interest, feeling upset, envy, or even jealousy).  But if the outcome is having engaged and interested students, then would it not be a risk worth taking?

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Somewhere lies the truth…

I’ve been involved in an interesting discussion with my PIDP colleagues.  There was a suggestion (backed by research evidence), that a student’s social environment can have an impact on their academic success.  Authors stated that most students who surround themselves with high-achievers improved their performance over time; the opposite was also true.  (To see the article, click here.)

But, what about John Hattie’s synthesis of over 800 studies that looked at student achievement?  I’ve discussed his idea of Visible Learning earlier in my blog, but just to review, he designed a meta-analysis and came up with a way of ranking various influences related to learning and achievement.  And where did peer influences fit on his list?  Nearly halfway down the list of positive influences.  At the top of his list is the teacher’s estimates of achievement.  So…perhaps the teacher estimates similar achievement for certain pockets of students?  If this is the case, both studies could be true…  Or does peer influence not really matter all that much?

Here’s a neat infographic depicting Hattie’s results:

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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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Team Teaching

“As teachers we all bring different gifts, and handicaps, to the table” (Brookfield, 2015, p. 102).

This quote originates from Brookfield’s (2015) chapter on teaching successfully in diverse classrooms. He suggests that no matter how much effort an instructor makes on meeting the diverse needs of each learner, he or she will never be fully successful.  Brookfield proposes the idea of team teaching – where two or three instructors with “different racial identities, talents, and personalities form a teaching team” (Brookfield, 2015, p. 102).  Having a team of instructors teach a course will generate more opportunities for the varied learning needs of students to be met.  One instructor who wrote an article on her experience with team teaching stated, “we magnified each other’s successes and minimized each other’s failures” (Tomlinson, 2015, p. 90). 

Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it?  So why aren’t we seeing it in our classrooms?  Most likely because of the budget.  It’s an unfortunate but true fact that post-secondary education administration is more focused on budget than on learning.  And of course they need to balance the books.  But we’re doing a disservice to our students when we don’t make “maximizing learning” the primary focus in every aspect of adult education.

Although I don’t foresee team teaching due to fiscal constraints, I can still try to help meet the diverse needs of learners.  I am obligated to try to offer the variety of teaching methods that students would receive if they had multiple instructors. Bain (2004) tells us that outstanding teachers conduct class in a multitude of ways: sometimes visual, other times auditory, individual and group work, learning sequentially and globally.  This would require a real commitment to self-reflection and making changes that may be challenging but would increase student learning.  And what Bain (2004) and Brookfield (2015) both agree on, is that the best teachers do whatever it is that helps students to learn.

References:

Bain, K. (2004). What the best college teachers do. Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.

Brookfield, S. D. (2015). The skillful teacher: On technique, trust, and responsiveness in the classroom (3rd ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Tomlinson, C.A. (2015). Teaching in tandem: A reflection. Educational Leadership, December 2015/January 2016, 90-91.

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