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.
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? (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. (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.
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.
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. http://fact.on.ca/news/news0004/np000418.htm
Personal Communication (1996) Jim Willox from PinPoint Process Serving, Winnipeg, Manitoba.
Brookfield’s chapter two discusses The Core Assumptions of Skillful Teaching being:
- “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. (https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/time-to-lead/the-globes-advisory-panel-on-how-students-learn/article4590195/?page=2)
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 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.]
End of Week 2 Blog by dougsetter(c)
Comments on Brookfield Chapter 1.
If I was to sum up Brookfield’s Chapter one is that a good teacher/instructor really cares about the teaching and then he goes on great length to talk about it. He likes to use $50 words where a simple one would suffice. (“Idiosyncratic” means “quirk.”) My take away is that it is nothing new. Yes, (1) you will have different types of learning and instructing. (2) There is always disappointment if you cannot teach or reach everyone. (3) Experience works, but you have to explain why.
What makes a good teacher/instructor?
1. Professionalism. The teacher shows up prior to the class, properly dressed for the work and conducts themselves properly in front of a class.
2. Sticking to the teaching plan. Inserting personal politics or tales of woe (eg. While attending school in Surrey, I would have to hear about: the teacher’s upcoming strike, personal story of stabbing someone with scissor, etc.) loses the teacher’s credibility.
3. Good subject knowledge.
4. Approachable. The student should be able to approach the teacher without feeling like an idiot. (One of the U of M professors was nicknamed, “The evil grandma” as she would always talk down to students and get some kind of joy out of it.
5. Class control. The teacher keeps the class on track with the lesson and avoids “red herrings.”
6. Good character. The teacher is a public person in the position of responsibility. Proper conduct in and outside of the classroom will affect how the students view them.
7. Engages the class with questions, learning aids and examples.
I was schooled in Surrey, B.C. (Yeah, I know. It was an experience.) Joined the military in the 70’s and worked at a number of different jobs, including electronic technician, First Aid instructor, fitness instructor, reporter, building manager, UN peacekeeper and office manager. I was a former paratrooper, ran 5 full marathons, climbed Mt. Rainier and travelled parts of Asia, Europe and the U.S.A. I have written several manuscripts, four books and over 100 articles and earned a Bachelor of Human Ecology (Foods and Nutrition).
Postings reflecting course content:
Brookfield chapter 1 (see above)
Links to classmate’s Blogs:
Educators often overlook the physical side of a good learner.
The learner who is lacking in good health and environment is at a mark disadvantage of their better prepared peers.
Hours available to study
Malcolm Gladwell makes an interesting observation in his book, Outliers, regarding the intelligence of upper income children. It is not so much that the wealthier children have better schools and home as much as they study more than their lower income counter-parts. For instance, during the summer breaks, most low-income and middle-income children play in the streets, go to camps or hang around home. Meanwhile, the wealthier children are going to summer school for at least an extra month or two. So after 12 years of schooling the wealthier children have 12 to 24 months of more schooling and tutoring than their lower income counter-parts. That is roughly 2,400 to 4,800 more hours of learning. Just the shear volume of learning puts them ahead.
Obviously, the student who has a stable home life, with a loving family and clean quiet location to study has the advantage over the student in a chaotic home and constant interruptions.
Learning environment also includes good lighting, proper chairs and isolated locations.
In his book, Writing, Stephen King writes about his high school days when children came to school with rocks in their lunch boxes to simulate lunches. School breakfast and lunch programs go a long way to ensure that a student has enough to eat so that they can concentrate.
Both the adult and young learner can benefit from outside fresh air and exercise. Exercise strengthens the back and stretches the hamstrings, minimizing back strain from sitting too long. The extra oxygen improves brain function. Exercise also releases stress and produces endorphins which makes a person feel good.
A neglected component of memory is the ability to sleep. Sleep enables the brain to sort out the problems of the day and retain information.
–Doug Setter BSc.