Performance Reviews: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly (C) 2017

Performance Reviews are often dreaded and misused. Too often they are left for interpretation of the assessor.  Done properly, they are an excellent means of base-lining performance and demonstrating progress.



Private School Trap?

Picture by: Alex Nabaum from Mother Jones magazine Jan. 31, 2014.

Program Accreditation and Self-Teaching (Copyright Doug Setter 16 August, 2017)

Accredited learning institutions, that is, schools recognized by the government, might have the credibility that many of the unaccredited “diploma mills” do not.  Yet, recognized schools also have long waiting periods. (Some nursing programs have two year waiting lists.)   Whereas, non-accredited schools have shorter waiting periods.

The down side to the non-accredited schools is the high cost. Some report good results, some do not. Some report total rip-offs.(1)  Some schools, like the Sprott College, is PCTIA approved, so it is recognized. Therefore, the graduating students are reportedly qualified to work in their fields.  Yet, many of the student reviews in this college were poor . However at least one review mentioned that the graduating students were well-prepared.

Recognized schools are cheaper.  But, is the end product any better?  I say no.  There are plenty of graduates being “under employed” in their fields.

In both instances, of good and bad reviews from private colleges is that much of the schooling was self-taught .  In my own experience with recognized schools, this is much the same.   Where some (and I emphasize some) professors were available for questions or could actually give straight answers, most of the learning came from my own self-study and fellow students.  I even hired a tutor for a statistics course.

Though I have never experienced them, the co-op programs show the most promise, though the results can range from placement into a good paying job to getting room and board covered in a non-profit organization.  One friend of mine went to do charity work in South America for several months.  He came back missing hair.

Higher education means taking responsibility for your learning.  High school is long over and no one is there to push you through.  Nowadays, learning on your own is the new norm.  Good luck with it.




PIDP Options?

PIDP Options? (Copyright 16 Aug. 2017 by Doug Setter)


The best information from the PIDP program was not what I had expected. And the last place that I want to end up in is a school.

The practical teaching was good, if not overly cautious. I was fortune enough to engage with other adults from the working world. I used the opportunity to watch their styles and delivery. These experienced instructors ranged from using explosives to managing a Cactus Club restaurant.

Evaluation of Learning was another good class as I attended full-time. Again, the biggest bonus was meeting and talking with people from the working world. I only wish that I had had more time to hear about their experiences and what worked and what did not.

But, I already knew how to instruct and evaluate. The most useful course information was the curriculum development. From all of my years as an instructor, I was rarely required to design a course. That was the upper echelon’s job.  Finally, I have the working structure to make a curriculum or in plain language: Time Table.

The final step is pretty obvious.

Find an instructing contract.

Brookfield’s Blunder About Student Attention

Brookfield’s Blunder About Student Attention. (Copyright 16 Aug. 2017 by Doug Setter)

Brookfield makes the popular assumption that students attention span is only good for 10-15 minutes.

Wrong, Mr. Brookfield.

According to psychology researchers Karen Wilson and James Korn , “much depends on the instructor.” The researchers found the following:

1. Attention lapses one minute or less at a time;
2. Lapses occurred frequently;
3. The is a pattern of attention relapse:
a. 30 seconds of “settling-in” to the lecture.
b. 4.5 to 5 minutes into the lecture.
c. Next, 7 to 9 minutes into the lecture.
d. And finally 9 to 10 minutes into the lecture.
4. The lapses occurred more frequently into the lecture. (2 minutes near the end of the lecture.)
5. There were fewer reported lapses in attention during lecture segments that included demonstrations and questions.

Conclusion: Attention relapses are more frequent than commonly thought. But, active or “student centered” pedagogies report fewer lapses in attention.

Lies My Teacher Told Me

(End of week 4 and 5)
(see Youtube at the end of blog)

Brookfield talks about the “growth in college enrollment by students under represented are out-pacing white students .” Yet, the diversified classroom was nothing new . Fifty to 100 years ago, most of the new populations were Chinese and European who were valued for their labour and skill at agriculture . Many were escaping starvation and persecution (eg. Jews, Mennonites) and had to struggle with learning new languages, cultures, climates and democracy. Even 50 years ago, semi-skilled labour like logging and oil-rigging provided a much higher income than “higher education,” so, the new populations headed for the rural areas.

Now the new students from cultures that value education and many foreign students can learn much cheaper than their homeland . So, this is another factor. A sense of purpose and enthusiasm can over-ride the second language barrier and a fear of new customs and even democracy.

Answer to the questions:
1. I have instructed First Aid, military courses, outdoor skills and personal training. I plan to be conducting seminars and employed with a corporation or institution. There are conferences in publishing that I could attend and I could join the Canadian Speakers group or Publishing Meet Ups. As usual, I am constantly upgrading my resume.

Student Resistance to Learning

Brookfield states that much of the resistance is poor self-esteem, fear of the unknown, teaching above the student’s ability, irrelevance of the lesson, teaching style and not liking the teacher.

Catholic rhetoric and Surrey elementary and high school was not always the best learning environments. Many teachers could only teach the way that they themselves excelled: by the textbook. As Mrs. Dyck, our grade 11 English teacher once remarked: “A teacher was a student too scared to leave school.”

• Teach to the level of the student’s understanding.
• Go from the known to the unknown.
• Make the learning environment conducive to learning.
• Teach the purpose of the lesson.
• Be a professional instructor.

Professional Ethics

One abuse by some teachers is fraternizing. Few things destroy a teacher’s credibility when they hug, kiss or have relationships with students. Former Sechelt, high school teacher, Heather Ingram is one example.

Then there was a group of Winnipeg teachers who were drinking alcohol with students during a high school graduation party. One drunk student dove into an empty swimming pool and broke his neck. The parents sued the school board and the city.

My field does have a Code of Ethics and both instructors and students are required to sign policies on relationship, drug and alcohol use and contact with the media.

To end on a lighter note, here are popular lies that teachers often tell high school students:

Brookfield, S.(2006) The Skillful Teacher: On Trust, Technique and Responsiveness in the Classroom. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. P.98.

Alba, R. & Nee, V. (2003) Remaking the American Mainstream: Assimilation and Contemporary Immigration. Harvard University Press: Cambridge.

Brookfield, S.(2006) The Skillful Teacher: On Trust, Technique and Responsiveness in the Classroom. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. P.217.

Steffenhagen, J. (18 April, 2000) “Teen lover in court to comfort teacher who ‘exploited’ him.” Vancouver Sun.

Personal Communication (1996) Jim Willox from PinPoint Process Serving, Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Never Assume Skillful Teaching (C) by Doug Setter

Brookfield’s chapter two discusses The Core Assumptions of Skillful Teaching being:

  1. “Whatever helps students learn.”  Well, some methods work, like negative reinforcement or mild forms of punishment.  But, they can lead to resentment.  The diverse class has the hardest time learning as they cannot collaborate as easily as a young, non-working, fresh-from-high school students.    So, one size does not fit all.  I think that students should have some kind of pre-training prior to class or have student advisors for the adult learners.  This would have helped me when I went to university as a 39 year old student.  Institutions serve the aboriginal population and ESL, so how about some help for the more mature students?

2.  Teachers taking a “critically reflective stance” towards teaching?  I have yet to see a university or college instructor ever be evaluated.  Should not there be a system in place to maintain a teaching standard?

3.  Teachers need to get a feel of their class.  I recall the effect of 9/11 on the campus.  One of the professors was so stressed that she wanted to go home.  Where as a professional, her concern should have been more directed to her class.  An instructor should have a certain amount of awareness of what is going on with students.

4.  Treat college students as adults.  Best to learn now about the outside world. The instructor has to be the go-to authority figure (see the book: Fatherless America) as students need some kind of direction and example.

I like the quote from a Globe and Mail interview of several prominent educators. (

Karen Foster, Banting postdoctoral fellow in management at Saint Mary’s University:

I think some of the resistance to “new” teaching methods is that tired old idea that today’s student is overly “entitled” – that somehow by embracing new technologies and accommodating different learning styles is coddling. The fact is, these new technologies and processes are going to be in the workplace and other realms of daily life. Might as well prepare students for that.

Again, the emphasis is placed on the teaching professionals to keep abreast of technologies.  Mechanics, dentists and every other professional does it, so teachers are no different.

End of Week 1 PIDP 3260

End of Week 1 Blog by dougsetter(c)

Hi, I am Doug Setter, BSc. I am 59 years old and have instructed military, outdoor skills, First Aid and fitness for over 20 years. I enjoy instructing. It gives me a real kick getting prepared for a class and delivering a presentation or a lesson.

I am taking this course so that I can continuing instructing after my upcoming retirement. Half of my reason is to get the “check in the box” qualification. The other half of my motivation is to pick up any method or new technology that I should be familiar with.

[Note to fellow students: You can order the Kindle version of The Skillful Teacher on amazon, for half the price.]